this is from Nick Wall, no relative as far as I know...
I am an activist and public sector worker based in Merseyside. I have started a petition on the 10 Downing Street website in support of a living wage :
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to take steps to replace the national minimum wage with a living wage based on the level of pay and conditions that enables a full-time worker to make ends meet for themselves and their family. Official regional living wage figures should be announced such as the one given by Mayor Livingstone for London (and increased by the GLA in April 2007 to £7.20 an hour).
Why a living wage ?
This is a really good simple idea that has taken off in recent years. The point is this : the national minimum wage does not allow many workers to escape poverty. The Low Pay Commission do not take into account peoples actual needs in setting the NMW. In the UK 4¼ million adults aged 22 to retirement were paid less than £6.50 per hour in 2006. Two thirds of these were women and a half were part-time workers. A living wage could ensure that no workers receive poverty pay or have to rely on benefits. For further information, read the details beneath the petition or visit the website links below.
Why now ?
Following pressure from campaigners, London mayor Ken Livingstone has given his backing to a living wage in London. Figures for the London living wage are set and published, and a living wage implementation unit has been set up in City Hall. The campaign has already seen some historic victories for low paid workers of which here is just one example :
The college council committed itself to making Queen Mary the first "living wage campus" in the UK. This means no one will be paid less than a living wage (currently set at £6.70 an hour), or receive fewer than 28 days' holiday and 10 days' sick pay. Crucially, the change includes all staff on campus, not just those directly employed by the university. Queen Mary's cleaning staff are going to get a rise.
For Christine Martin, cleaning supervisor at Queen Mary for 12 years, the living wage will make a huge difference. Martin is employed by the university's cleaning contractors, KGB, and receives £5.20 an hour - the £5.05 minimum wage plus a pitiful 15 pence an hour as supervisor. "It is difficult to survive in London on this kind of money. Sometimes you think you might as well not work for what you earn," she says. "I do a second job and have to claim housing benefit just to make ends meet, so the living wage really has given me something to look forward to." Guardian April 11, 2006
My petition calls for living wage figures to be established in other parts of the country following the initiative in London. This will be a huge boost to millions of low paid workers. Through it I aim to raise awareness of the issue and help publicise ongoing struggles to secure a living wage.
Jean Lambert (Green Party MEP) said in support of my petition
British people work some of the longest hours in Europe yet 7 out of 10 people working over 48 hours per week say they would like to work fewer hours. For many however this is impossible as they simply cannnot afford to do so. It is currently possible for someone to work more than 60 hours a week and still be paid less than £11,000 per year. The number of people living below the poverty line in the UK is higher than the EU average and continues to increase. The long hours culture is endangering our health and acting as a detriment to our family life. We can't have a culture that says you can not rest. We need a national living wage immediately to ensure this changes and everyone can make ends meet without working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Labour Party councillor Richard Bertin (Vale of Glamorgan) added these comments
Yes we have now thankfully got the minimum wage, and yes it is helping thousands of low paid workers. But with the economy doing so well there are repercussions one of which is the rising house prices. Unfortunately, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow and this needs to be addressed now! - How? By rightly establishing a national living wage to ensure that we improve the lives of those on low pay and also do our bit to remove poverty from the 4th largest economy in the world - Great Britain. We need a living wage and we need it now!
I have been receiving a lot of support from Green Party members. Please show your support for a living wage. To sign, click on the link above and fill in your personal details.
Thanks for your time
London campaign website : http://www.livingwage.org.uk/
TGWU's Justice for Cleaners campaign http://www.tgwu.org.uk/Templates/Campaign.asp?Action=Display&NodeID=92473&int1stParentNodeID=42437&int2ndParentNodeID=42467
RMT Fair Deal for Rail Cleaners campaign http://www.rmt.org.uk/templates/campaign.asp?nodeid=93107
Facts about poverty in the UK : http://www.poverty.org.uk/summary/key%20facts.shtml