Peter Hunter: Every public worker deserves to earn a living wage

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IT’S time that everyone delivering public services in our city is paid a living wage, for doing the work that benefits all of us.

Unison has long supported a living wage – currently calculated at £7.20 per hour – because it does what it says on the tin.

It means that in return for the work that they do people get a standard of living with some level of decency.

It’s good for the economy as well. Studies have shown that raising up the lower paid is a far more effective way of boosting a local economy than tax cuts for the rich – more of the money gets spent in shops in Gorgie than holidays in Grenada.

Does a living wage for public service workers mean that other employers will find it difficult to recruit staff at very low wage rates? We certainly hope so.

That is what has happened in London, where many private sector firms have levelled their wages up for their lowest paid staff. And London is a fantastic example of a successful living wage strategy that our city council should look to.

The Mayor’s office in London has a Living Wage Unit. They not only make sure that in house jobs reach living wage levels – but also ensure that contractors also pay a living wage rate.

We’d like to see that in our capital. It shouldn’t matter whether someone works directly for the council or for a contractor working for the council. Everyone deserves a living wage.

So how about it councillors, can you be as good to our city as Old Etonian Tory Boris Johnson is for his? It’s never too soon to abolish poverty pay.

• Peter Hunter is Unison regional organiser for Edinburgh