10th Anniversary of the Living Wage Campaign.
On May 2nd 2011 Friends from West London Area Meeting joined other Citizen's members at Methodist Central Hall to celebrate 10 years of the living wage campaign. This is a campaign which is not primarily about money but about dignity, respect and family stability. 2.1 million children in this country who are in poverty have a parent in employment. This is not acceptable. We as Citizens hope to change this through the living wage being adopted across the UK.
The London living wage has been carefully calculated at £8.30/hour by economists at KPMG and the University of Loughborough. The national living wage is £7.20/h. Currently, the legal minimum wage is £5.93/h. We heard from employees who now receive the living wage about the differences it has made to their lives, and those of their families.
We heard about some of the campaigns successes. A group of Citizens including some Friends took action at Tesco in Covent Garden and met Philip Clarke CEO, who is now "thinking about the notion that no-one should do a hard days work for less than they can live on". Ken Livingstone gave up his bank holiday to come and speak in support of the campaign, and we also heard a pre-recorded statement of support from Boris Johnson.
In 2012 London will hold the world's first living wage Olympics. We also hope to see more retailers adopt the scheme, with a living wage mark being displayed on their premises, much as we are used to seeing Fairtrade marks on ethical products. David Cohen, who previously reported in the Evening Standard about UCL's failure to pay the living wage (now they do), will be backing this campaign to target retailers.
Civil society is something that needs to be built up. We as Quakers and as Citizens can make an impact by right use of money and letting our lives speak.
There are some opportunities to do this by supporting the Living Wage Campaign and holding both businesses retailers to account here.