Leading the way for the Living Wage - Jane Meagher and Kat Brogan

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It was a proud moment for us when Edinburgh was overwhelmingly voted to host the inaugural Living Wage Places event last month – and we were prouder still to welcome over 70 advocates of fair pay to join us for it.

Every element of the day served as a reminder of how far the UK’s Living Wage movement has come over the last year, and just how much Edinburgh is leading the way.

So far, over 640 Edinburgh-based employers have signed up to pay it in our city. From major employers to independent shops, every single sign-up spreads the word even further and combined, they put an extra £1 million into the pockets of Edinburgh workers.

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Two of these employers – Marie Moser from the Edinburgh Bookshop and the team at Virgin Hotels – have recently been shortlisted for awards for all their efforts creating fairer workplaces. They follow in the footsteps of the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home who received recognition last year alongside other inspiring Scottish businesses and individuals. They should all be congratulated, and we wish them the best of luck at the Living Wage Champion Awards 2023 next month.

Councillor Jane MeagherCouncillor Jane Meagher
Councillor Jane Meagher

With the cost-of-living crisis serving as a stark reminder of what life on low pay means for workers, tackling in-work poverty together has never been more vital and May’s conference was an opportunity to confront this.

For all we’ve witnessed a huge boost in interest following Edinburgh’s formal recognition in 2020 as a Living Wage City, there is always more work to be done. And, as we look ahead to another busy festival season, the job security, welfare and pay of those in Edinburgh’s hospitality and tourism sector is an area we need to get right.

Kat is one of the first to admit that these industries don’t have the best reputation for fair wages, but she’s optimistic Edinburgh’s sector has the power to create diverse, inclusive teams that attract passionate people to work and equally support communities to thrive.

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When Mercat Tours surveyed the people who responded to one of their recruitment campaigns, the fact that it is a Living Wage employer was one of the top reasons people had for applying.

The Real Living Wage is about Real Living – supporting workers to lead happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives – and paying it is just one of the ways employers can foster a positive and supportive workplace culture. Taking care of the people you have and nurturing them. Attracting and retaining talent.

Employers’ views are presented to local and national government by our Action Group, which is a powerful advocate on behalf of Living Wage businesses.

Even as minimum wages rise, the Resolution Foundation is reporting that low earners’ work is becoming more intense and job satisfaction is falling – and fair working needs to encompass all aspects of a person’s job.

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If we can all focus on the good work that employers do already to support their teams, realising all the progress that they’ve already made – it can feel less daunting to branch out into more flexible working, job shares and other support. The Living Wage can be an extension of that.

Cllr Jane Meagher, Fair Work Convener and Kat Brogan of Mercat Tours, together chair

Edinburgh’s Living Wage Action Group

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