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'Living wage' protest outside council HQ in Chester

Published date: 06 February 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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PROTESTERS gathered outside the council’s HQ building in Chester to ask for a £1 pay rise for the lowest paid staff members.

Members of the Unite union lined up outside the offices of the Conservative-dominated Cheshire West and Chester Council.

They were there in support of their claim for council staff to be paid a ‘Living Wage’ and for salaries to be brought into line with the rest of the public sector.

Unite representative Ray McHale, who helped organise the protest, said: “We’re asking for a £1 per hour increase across the board. The lowest paid is £6.45 an hour currently which is £1 less than they pay in the rest of the public services.

“A £1 an hour increase would almost get us up to the Living Wage. We are trying to fight for a reasonable wage at the bottom in local government.”

Mr McHale, of Great Sutton, added: “If George Osborne puts the Minimum Wage – which is £6.31 for adults over 21 – up to £7, there are three grades of pay in the council affected by it and it would be better to make that rise slowly rather than all at once.

“We have had three years of pay freezes and a one per cent increase last year and in real terms that is an 18 per cent pay cut because of inflation. That has a massive impact on staff.

“People don’t think about the lesser paid staff like cleaners, care assistants, clerical staff and so on – only the highly paid officers.”

CWaC opposition Labour group leader, Cllr Justin Madders, who spoke to some of the protesters, said: “We would like to see all employers in Cheshire West paying the Living Wage. Obviously local government financing is under pressure but it is the sort of thing we believe would be a priority for a Labour council.

“Breadline wages are not the way to have a sustainable and prosporous borough.”

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