Greenwich Council admits London Living Wage is not for every employee

At last night’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee the extent of the Labour-run Council’s obfuscation over the London Living Wage (LLW) became clear when GSPlus revealed that it would not pay all of the staff it employed in the capital the LLW despite public statements that it was its policy to do so..

In an answer to Conservative Leader Cllr Spencer Drury, the Managing Director of GSPlus (a company wholly owned by the Royal Borough of Greenwich) confirmed that currently the company does not pay the LLW to its staff. However, he outlined plans to allow GSPlus employees working in Greenwich to receive the LLW from April 2014 at a cost of £112,000 but said other employees would not receive this level as that would cost half a million pounds. This included GSPlus staff employed in Bromley schools, who would not be receiving the LLW, although at City Hall they already have this higher level of pay.

The revelations were accompanied by a blunt warning about ‘price competitiveness’ which stated that ‘the Company’s prices will become too high due to the impact of wage rises and input costs increases, such that it is unable to compete on price on the open market.’

The revelation made a mockery of the answer provided by Greenwich Council Leader Chris Roberts when asked about the LLW by Cllr Drury in March this year. Then Cllr Roberts said “The policy of GS Plus is to adopt as a minimum the London Living Wage Rates.” but this does not appear to be the case.

Commenting on the situation Spencer said “I am shocked that the Labour Council insists on telling everyone that its principles mean it will pay the London Living Wage but these are not put into practice. Labour admitted this year that it wasn’t paying the LLW, but now we know it has no intention of paying £8.80 an hour where it thinks it can get away with it. It is the hypocrisy which upsets me most as this Council once again says one thing but does something completely different.”

“On the bright side, I imagine this issue will get a glowing write up in Greenwich Time praising the Council’s forward thinking and principled stance on wages.”

At the start of the month, when announcing this policy, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "Paying the London Living Wage ensures hard-working Londoners are helped to make ends meet, providing a boost not only for their personal quality of life but delivering indisputable.”

"This in turn is good for London's productivity and growth. It is extremely heartening to see major new companies signed up this year but we need more converts."

Note on this article:

Written Council Question - 27 March 2013

Item 13 – Pay Policy Statement for 2013/14

1. Question from Councillor Spencer Drury to Councillor Chris Roberts, Leader of the Council.

In section 3.1, it states that “The remuneration for low paid staff is the adoption of the London Living Wage which was agreed by Cabinet in October 2009.” Can the Cabinet Member assure me that the London Living Wage is being paid by all wholly owned Council companies, in particular GS Plus?

Reply –

I thank Councillor Drury for the question.

The policy of GS Plus is to adopt as a minimum the London Living Wage Rates.

Labour Councillor Matthew Pennycook has claimed credit for the policy of adopting the LLW in Greenwich – will he speak out publicly against this GSPlus policy?