February 25th: Speaking this morning, Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly welcomed the progress made last week towards Belfast City Council becoming a Living Wage employer, and said that raising wage floors was crucial in what he termed “the battle to raise living standards in Northern Ireland”. Mr Kelly said that he hoped the Belfast initiative would be emulated by councils throughout Northern Ireland.
“Low pay is endemic in Northern Ireland”, Jimmy Kelly said.
“The Living Wage is calculated as the amount above which a person can live adequately and with dignity. Currently set at £7.65 per hour, it represents a threshold of decency.
“Yet more than one in every four workers in Northern Ireland earn less than the Living Wage. That’s a higher proportion than in England, Scotland or Wales.
“Last Friday, following a motion tabled to Belfast City Council in January, all parties on the Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee agreed in principle to support the introduction of a Living Wage.
“By becoming a Living Wage employer, Belfast City Council will set a standard for other employers to follow. Unite urges other councils throughout Northern Ireland to follow suit and adopt a Living Wage as part of a strategy to end Northern Ireland’s low pay culture.
“Low pay is bad for workers, bad for business and bad for Northern Ireland’s economy”, Mr Kelly concluded.