Firms fear living wage would make them uncompetitive

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THE Island cannot continue to rely on cheap labour, and the introduction of a 'Jersey Living Wage' could create numerous benefits for the economy and society, the director of a Catholic charity has said.

John Scally, from Caritas Jersey, is calling on employers and customers of lower-paid workers to do more to implement the increased rate and has joined forces with the owner of a cleaning firm to help drive the initiative forward.

Implementing a living wage would mean that workers received a minimum of £9.75 an hour, but Mr Scally says that the wage should be a voluntary initiative rather than being forced on employers.

He said: 'One of the problems we came up against was that we approached the finance industry and they said: "We already pay all of our employees at least the living wage."

'They said they did not employ cleaners, they contract them, but if they are working on your premises they are effectively your employees.

'So I spoke to Duarte Fernandes, the managing director of Sonic Cleaning, and what he said he would do is that when people asked for a quote he would provide a quote on two bases. One of them would be based on paying his staff the living wage and another without and allow them to make a decision.'

He added: 'We have approached cleaning firms in the past about this, but they have said that if they do adopt the living wage it will make them uncompetitive.'

Mr Scally added that he understood that some firms, such as those in the hospitality and agriculture sectors, would be unable to survive if they were to charge the living wage, but that it would not be difficult for many Jersey companies.

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