"But we don’t need to wait for a Labour Government. We are involved in the administration of 134 councils across the UK- each of which have some control of procurement policy for their own councils"
The Labour Party has, since its very beginning, had as a key principle that we will act to materially improve the material condition of the working class.
From this principle comes our commitment to not just a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work but an equal day’s pay for an equal day’s work. There are many aspects of the fight against pay discrimination- sex, race and sexual orientation are three that spring immediately to mind- but being a young, straight, white male, the pay related struggle that I feel most qualified to talk about is that related to age discrimination in pay.
It’s a disgrace that this Tory Government has, since coming to power, made it perfectly legal for employers not to pay the Government’s so-called National Living Wage to people who are under 25. 24 year olds do the same work as 25 year olds and yet they can legally be paid up to 43p an hour less.
That’s why I am proud that the Labour Party supports the fight for equal pay regardless of age and that we have adopted policy that the next Labour Government will set public procurement policy to make sure these values are promoted in every contract involving an arm of national or local government.
But we don’t need to wait for a Labour Government. We are involved in the administration of 134 councils across the UK- each of which have some control of procurement policy for their own councils. So why do we still have public contracts being issued by Labour Councils that allow pay for young workers at a lower level?
As a member of the Unite London and Eastern Young Members Committee, I’ve recently been involved with a campaign focused on the leisure provider GLL (some of you might know them as ‘Better’, hence the title of my piece). GLL have leisure contracts with councils all over the country. Some of these councils are Real Living Wage certified councils but, as GLL management confessed to our brilliant Committee Chair Mary Hackwood, they do not pay the real living wage to those under the age of 21. This provision was written into the contract they had with several London councils.
When we heard, Unite complained to these councils but received the same reply from councils- that they couldn’t change the provision mid-contract. We discovered, after Tower Hamlets Labour followed our suggestion and provided more money to GLL to cover the cost of the 21% pay increase, that this is rubbish and firms are happy to pay more if more money is provided. All that is needed is the political leadership by councils to follow national Labour policy and put their money where their mouth is.
Are you angry about this and want to do something about it? Why not write to your local Labour councillors and ask them to review your council’s procurement policy and current contracts. Even better, join Unite and come along and give us a hand in our campaign.