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A Living Wage for Wales

May 9th 2012

This week Welsh children, working with Save the Children, launch a national campaign to secure a Living Wage of £7.20 an hour for Welsh workers.

You can sign our young campaigners petition here and I would urge you do so. Our aim is to keep this issue firmly on the agenda of our political leaders and demonstrating that the public cares and the public is watching is an excellent way to do that, so please if you do support us, go to the site and sign up.

We are asking that Carwyn Jones and his government deliver on the spirit and the substance of Labour’s manifesto commitments on the Living Wage by launching a national movement to end poverty pay. We are asking today that the National Assembly Commission and the Welsh Government both pledge to become Living Wage employers in their own right and that the journey to bring the NHS, public authorities and the private sector into the fold is begun in earnest.

This will need leadership from all parts of Welsh life but most importantly it needs impetus from the very top, from Carwyn and his government. We are challenging them today to take up this task and to negotiate, persuade and influence their way to a Living Wage for Wales.

It is a call, which we believe is based on sound economics and good politics as well as being ambitious for Wales. Because while establishing Wales as a nation leading the way in working to improve the pay of its poorest paid workers sends important messages about social solidarity and the value of work but it also says a great deal about the way we intend to grow as a nation. It says we refuse to engage in a race to the bottom on salaries, its says that we believe investing in our people, nurturing and developing them in the workplace is more important than piling them high and hiring them cheap.
And it also can do a great deal to help tackle the generation-spanning blight of child poverty.

In Wales today 200,000 children live in poverty and in the majority of those households at least one parent is in work. There are parts of Wales where nearly 30% of employees are paid less than £7 an hour and with the cost of living rising faster in Wales that the rest of the UK those low wage rates are becoming harder and harder to get by on. If we are going to ask our young people to buy into the idea that working hard at school and getting a job is the way to improve their lives and their prospects, we have to meet them halfway. We have to send a clear, unambiguous message that paid employment will provide them with a decent level of income and a decent standard of living. We have to answer the call of aspiration and we have to listen to the voices of our children.

What we are calling for is a campaign, a commitment, a movement towards change for the better. This requires no great legislative acts from the Senedd, no laws, no top-down directives from ministerial desks. A Living Wage campaign in Wales would not be a matter of imposing wage rates on struggling employers or budget–tightening public authorities, it would instead be about making the case for better wages in a positive way. It would engage employers across Wales in a conversation about how by paying a little more an hour they would be investing not only in the individual, but in their communities and economy.

The time has come for us to listen to the voices of the next generation of Welsh men and women, a generation concerned about their friends and their futures. The time has come for Wales to turn its back on low pay and the race to the bottom and to say we will gladly pay a Living Wage, because it is good for our children, our families, our communities and our economy.
Now is time for leadership and action, please help us demand that from the Welsh Government, please sign our petition.

 

James Pritchard is Head of Wales for Save the Children

About the Petition (from Save the Children):

Young people working with Save the Children in Wales are campaigning for a Living Wage by asking the Welsh Government to STEP UP and stand by their promise to work towards a living wage for every worker in Wales. We know that no matter how hard they try the minimum wage simply is not enough for some parents to make ends meet and give children the best chance in life. Our petition asks the government to help families and children in Wales have a fairer future. Watch our great new film at and sign up to our petition to show your support. If you don’t already follow us on twitter we are @savechildrencym the hashtag for the campaign is #livingwage

We are looking to get the link distributed as widely as possible and lots of people to sign up to the petition so please spread the word and sign up to show your support!

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