States vote to pay staff living wage

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The States’ adoption of a proposition from Deputy Geoff Southern means that all staff will be paid at least last year’s Jersey living wage figure of £9.75 an hour as standard. The minimum wage from 1 April this year is due to be £7.50.

And other organisations linked with the States, including public-owned companies such as Ports of Jersey, are now being encouraged to follow suit.

Chief Minister Ian Gorst described yesterday’s vote as ‘historic’ and said it showed that politicians from all sides of the House could work together to make a real difference to people’s lives.

He also thanked Deputy Southern and Deputy Andrew Lewis – a member of the Jersey Living Wage Advisory Council – for the parts they had played in bringing the proposals forward.

Speaking during yesterday’s debate, he said: ‘It is not often that those on the right and those on the left are in agreement but today is one of those days.

‘It is not necessarily about anyone saying “it was us” but it is the fact we have worked together across the divide and I think that shows Jersey at its best.’

The proposition was almost unanimously adopted, with 42 Members voting in favour and just Senator Sarah Ferguson abstaining.

The decision means that by 1 June all States employees, agency staff and sub-contractors – including gardeners and cleaners – will be paid the living wage.

A living wage differs from place to place and is a rate of pay that is deemed high enough for employees to maintain a reasonable standard of living in their community. Charity Caritas has been licensed by the Living Wage Foundation to set the rate for Jersey.

Deputy Southern also called on Treasury Minister Alan Maclean, as the States’ shareholder representative for public-owned companies and bodies, to urge those organisations to also seek accreditation as living-wage employers.

The Deputy said: ‘This provides the benchmark for responsible employers. No one is being compelled to adopt the living wage – for some businesses they may never adopt the living wage but for many it is possible and what is happening here is the States are leading the way to encourage other employers.’

Deputy Lewis added that the move would improve workforce morale and productivity.

‘It does increase commitment and motivation,’ he said. ‘I haven’t found too many pieces of evidence that say otherwise.

‘There is a growing body across the world that is seeing this as the right thing to do both morally but also economically.

‘Today is an opportunity to put a message out to companies to say “talk to Caritas, talk to us and make it a badge of honour for your company”.’

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