Employment

Andy Burnham to turn Greater Manchester into first living wage city region

The Manchester Mayor has formed an action group in the city region to pay all workers the real living wage by the end of the decade

Andy Burnham on a real living wage

Andy Burnham wants to give all Greater Manchester workers a real living wage by the end of the decade. Image credit: NHS Confederation / Flickr

Andy Burnham has used the first week since his re-election as Manchester Mayor to unveil his plan to turn Greater Manchester into the first city region in the UK which pays the real living wage.

Burnham has formed a Living Wage City-Region action group to work towards the goal of ensuring all workers in the city will be paid a real living wage by the end of the decade. The real living wage is calculated by the Living Wage Foundation based on the cost of living and currently stands at £9.50 an hour across the UK and £10.85 in London.

This is what levelling-up looks likeManchester Mayor Andy Burnham

“The proposals we will be bringing forward will be about creating better jobs for our residents, but also about supporting our businesses to invest in people and grow in a positive and sustainable way,” said Burnham. “Paying a real living wage isn’t just the right thing to do for workers – it’s the right thing for businesses too.

“People already in low-paying jobs with unpredictable hours were left exposed to the worst effects of the pandemic, on their health and on their livelihoods. Now, Greater Manchester is calling time on insecure and low-paid jobs.

“This is the first step towards making sure everyone working in Greater Manchester has the dignity of decent work, paid a real living wage for real living hours. This is what levelling-up looks like.”

Announcing the plans, Burnham said currently around one in five jobs in Greater Manchester – roughly 200,000 – pay less than the real living wage. Women are disproportionately affected by the pay disparity, accounting for almost 60 per cent of the jobs earning less than the real living wage.

Black workers and Asian workers are more likely to find themselves in lower paying jobs too, accounting for almost 40 per cent and 35 per cent of jobs respectively compared to 23 per cent for White workers.

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The action group held its first meeting on May 12, bringing Burnham together with businesses, unions, local authorities, faith groups and voluntary and charitable organisations. 

The group is chaired by Lou Cordwell, chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership.

Cordwell added: “Businesses in Greater Manchester increasingly recognise that they have a social responsibility, beyond simply making a profit. By paying a real living wage they can make a genuine and positive impact on their community.”

The Living Wage Foundation (LWF) has hailed Burnham’s announcement. LWF director Laura Gardiner said: “This is a welcome development and an important step in delivering better paid, secure, real living Wage jobs throughout Greater Manchester. 

“If we’re to rebuild and recover from this crisis we’ll need more of our boroughs, towns, cities and regions focusing on delivering the stability and dignity that comes through living wage jobs.”

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