Southwark Green Party

Stop paying council cleaners poverty wages

12 October 2010


Southwark Green Party, Unison and Southwark Save Our Services have called on Southwark Council to honor its commitment to the London Living Wage and end poverty pay for its subcontracted workers. They have written to Cllr Peter John pressing him to implement a policy, introduced in 2008, to bring workers up to the living wage - currently £7.85/hour - when contracts are reviewed.

FoI requests have revealed complete inaction since 2008, and a number of major contracts coming up in the next year including the main contract for the council's 180 cleaners in November and a further 106 carer contracts.

You can sign the petition to call on Southwark Council here. Our full letter is reproduced below:


Letter to Peter John on living wage

Dear Peter John,

Southwark Council passed a motion introducing a London Living Wage policy in November 2008, proposed by Green Councillor Jenny Jones and supported by the Labour Group.

After two years, the Council has failed to implement this in any contracts. When we have questioned this record the Council has hidden behind specious legal advice.

Over 100 organisations in London have implemented the London Living Wage through their contractual processes, including the Greater London Authority and Lewisham Council. At least three other London boroughs are now actively pursuing the policy. Islington Council have recently announced they will bring their entire cleaning contracts in-house, bringing all cleaners up the the London Living Wage out of the savings from this move. This demonstrates that Southwark is out of step with a growing consensus.

Southwark's Community Strategy confirms the importance of the London Living Wage:

"Unless we can significantly increase the number of local people who are able to earn a living wage our community will continue to bear the impact of poverty with all that this implies."

In your recent statement on budget principles, you reiterated your "vision to create a fairer future for all by promoting social and economic equality in an economically vibrant borough". Implementing the London Living Wage is a straightforward way in which you can realise that vision for cleaners, carers and other low paid workers providing our services in an age of savage ideological cuts to those services.

We the undersigned call on Southwark Council to take three steps towards protecting those people providing council services on poverty pay:

1 - Seek implementation of the London Living Wage policy in all future contracts, both those to be renewed and those re-tendered;

2 - Explore opportunities to bring contracts in-house, bringing all workers up to the London Living Wage without the need to engage contractors;

3 - Engage with the GLA group's Responsible Procurement programme to receive legal and practical advice on implementing the London Living Wage.

Yours faithfully,

Tom Chance, Chair, Southwark Green Party
April Ashley, Southwark Unison
Justin Baidoo-Hackman, Southwark Save Our Services 

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