MSP urges more Shire businesses to become Living Wage employers

Gillian Martin, MSP for Aberdeenshire East, has become one of the growing number of accredited Living Wage MSPs in the North East
Gillian Martin, MSP for Aberdeenshire East, has become one of the growing number of accredited Living Wage MSPs in the North East

Gillian Martin, MSP for Aberdeenshire East, has become one of the growing number of accredited Living Wage MSPs in the North East and urged other employers to join her.

Among the companies in the area who are formally accredited Living Wage employers are food and drink heavyweights Mackie’s of Scotland and BrewDog, as well as Phil Anderson Financial Services and Keenan Recycling.

Ms Martin’s call comes after during a month when the focus is on fair pay and flexible work. On November 10th, Equal Pay Day illustrated that because of the gender pay gap, after that date women are effectively working for free for the rest of the year.

In addition, the local MSP, who convenes the Cross Party Group on Women in Enterprise, led a debate in Parliament last week on Flexible Working, and herself operates a flexible workplace.

The month began with Living Wage week, when The Real Living Wage was increased 20p to £8.45 per hour. The Living Wage meets the real costs of living and is reviewed every year using the best evidence about living standards in the UK. Full time employees earning the real Living Wage earn £45 a week more than those on the UK Government minimum. For people who are paid the real Living Wage, it means the difference between just getting the government minimum and earning enough to afford the things you need to live, like a decent meal, a warm home and a birthday treat for your children.

The campaign for a Living Wage began in 2001 when a coalition of faith organisations, schools, trade union branches and students’ unions known as The East London Communities Organisation decided a Living Wage was the answer to many of the social problems facing their community.

The Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Initiative was established in April 2014 with the aim of increasing the number of employers in Scotland who are recognised for paying their staff the Living Wage. Hosted by The Poverty Alliance, the Initiative works in partnership with the Living Wage Foundation and is funded by the Scottish Government.

Commenting, Ms Martin, a member Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee at Holyrood said: ,“I’m proud to be one of over 60 MSPs who are now Living Wage employers. I advocate for business practices which enable as many people as possible to enter the world of work. Whether those practices include facilitating flexible working hours, remote working or paying at least the Living Wage.

“430,000 people in Scotland still earn less than the wage they need to get by, which is why raising awareness about the Living Wage, and the benefits to employers of paying it, is so important. Low pay disproportionately affects women, and the Living Wage can help to close the gender pay gap.

“The Living Wage is a crucial part of the wider Scottish Business Pledge, which shows the Scottish Government’s commitment to supporting sustainable business growth in Scotland.

“Although we have a number of Living Wage employers in my constituency of Aberdeenshire East, it would be great if more employers in the area would sign up to the scheme. Those whose have done having nothing but good things to say about the impact on their business of paying the real Living Wage.”

A spokesperson for BrewDog said: “Since BrewDog became a Living Wage employer in October 2014, we have been astounded by the positive effect on our teams. Our staff feel valued and can see we recognise the positive impact they have on our business every day. As a result, they build better customer relationships, we get better customer feedback, and our teams are more stable and easier to develop thanks to lower staff turnover. The returns are phenomenal and we would recommend any business to take this step.”

Mel Keenan, of Keenan Recycling added: "The core values of our Company are concerned with our responsibility to our employees and to the society in which we operate. Being a Living Wage Employer is not always easy but we do it because we consider it to be our duty to look after the less skilled and lowest paid of our people."

Companies interested in becoming an Accredited Living Wage Employer should contact The Poverty Alliance at accrediation@povertyalliance.org