Every week, Unions Together are questioning all five Labour leadership candidates on specific issues that matter to their members. Last week, the Milibands, Diane Abbott, Ed Balls and Andy Burnham all answered questions on how they saw the role of the unions in the 21st century.
This week, there’s a question on how each candidate, were they elected, would implement a living wage. All five candidates back campaigns for a living wage.
Diane Abbott says:
“I would support introducing legislation to ensure that government tenders are not able to be taken up by contractors who are not prepared to pay a living wage to their staff. As a party, we must lead by example and those who are not willing to offer a decent wage for a decent day’s work, should not benefit from government contracts.”
Ed Balls sets out a seven point plan for what he would do, including:
* Raising the National Minimum Wage every year at least in line with average earnings.
* Following Ken Livingstone’s example by having the Low Pay Commission properly assess the level of a Living Wage.
* And ensuring the public sector leads the way on fair pay, both directly and through procurement.
Andy Burnham says:
“I would establish a joint consultation of unions, business and a range of stakeholder groups to ensure that it is set at the appropriate level for each region and that it is workable. We must also remember the importance of policing and enforcing the minimum wage. In Opposition it is essential not only to press the coalition government to ensure that the minimum wage keeps its value in real terms but also that government ensures that checks and enforcement continues to stamp out bad business practice. Finally, I will set up a scheme, where good employers who were paying at the level of a living wage would receive accreditation and gain the recognition of being a good employer with positive employment practice.”
David Miliband says:
“I think we should pursue this goal through the government becoming a living wage employer – and committing to only doing business with contractors who pay a living wage. This would set a bar and show the way for the private sector – where campaigns involving community groups and trade unions have already made a big difference.”
And Ed Miliband says:
“I’ve already thrown my support behind Labour councils and Labour groups who have led the way on the living wage – like Tower Hamlets, Lewisham, Glasgow, Preston, Oxford, Lambeth and Hackney – and I’ll be working with others to do the same. Businesses too have a chance to show they are responsible employers by adopting the living wage and Labour members can and should campaign to raise the wages of the lowest paid employees in shops and banks as well as councils…When in government again we need to throw its entire weight behind the campaign, by supporting councils who adopt it, broadening the range of public sector workers who get it and by moving towards a procurement process that supports living wage employers bidding for external contracts.”