Pay levels: ‘Worrying is impact squeeze has on women’

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THE smallest increase in average wages that the Capital has seen for almost a decade is not cheery news whatever way you look at it.

A pay rise of 0.5 per cent adds up to about a tenner a week for anyone on the average Edinburgh salary of just over £27,500.

And in reality that isn’t even enough to treat yourself to a dine in for two offer at the supermarket once you take into account the rising cost of living.

But equally the results of the latest UK salary survey are not quite as gloomy for us they may first appear.

Pay levels in the Capital rose in the last year – however pitifully – at a faster rate than in any other of the UK’s ten biggest cities. And, as we have come to expect, wages here remain clear above the Scottish and UK average.

It is another sign of the continuing resilience of the city’s economy during these tough times.

More worrying though is the impact that the pay squeeze, especially in the public sector, is having on working women.

Cuts imposed by the likes of NHS Lothian and the city council, who have large numbers of female workers, have contributed towards women’s pay falling by nearly one per cent while men’s has risen by almost two.

But that is an issue that can only be addressed at a UK-wide level. Public sector pay restraint and spending cuts are undoubtedly necessary evils right now, with the national debt approaching £1 trillion, but the impact of the current arrangements on working women does little for the Westminster government’s claims to champion fairness and equality.

Tom’s a true hero

Ex-soldier Tom Gilzean deserves to be saluted as one of our national treasures.

The 91-year-old Royal Mile charity fundraiser is already well-known in homes around the world thanks to the endless photographs he happily poses for in his full Highland dress to oblige eager tourists.

But each time a camera flash goes off Tom can allow himself a genuine, warm smile – because it means he has collected yet another donation for his favourite charities, including the Sick Kids Friends Foundation.

It is incredible to think that Tom – who stands with his collecting tin in wind, rain and snow – was almost banned last year for not having the correct council permit.

The Evening News is proud to have played its part in getting the threatened ban overturned. And we are delighted at the result – a record £40,000 for charity.