Let’s make Birmingham a Living Wage City


On Thursday 16 January local UNISON and UNITE members will be taking a day’s strike action in a dispute regarding pay and conditions for support staff at Birmingham University – including cleaners, catering staff, security staff, library staff and technicians

Below is the statement I have given on the issue:

There are currently 4.8 million workers in the country who aren’t paid enough to get by. Prices have risen in 39 of 40 months of David Cameron’s Government and people are increasingly struggling to cope with the cost of living crisis.

We know low pay costs businesses in productivity and morale, and costs the Government in social security payments and reduced tax revenue. That’s why Labour leader Ed Miliband has committed to supporting a living wage. Under a future Labour Government firms which sign up to paying the living wage will benefit from a 12-month tax rebate – of up to £1,000 – for every low paid worker who sees their pay rise to the living wage.

Obviously, the opportunity of change under a Labour Government won’t come until 2015. But many public and private sector organisations are already showing that you can deliver fairness in tough times. Birmingham City Council took a bold step in approving a minimum wage of £7.20 for 3000 staff in 2012, and encouraging contractors to do the same. The Living Wage is not just good for the individual but good for business and society too. It gives people dignity and motivation at work, gives employers better results and less staff turnover, boosts spending power in the local economy, and cuts the benefits bill.

That’s why I support a Living Wage for all the support staff at Birmingham University, and have written to the Vice Chancellor urging him to do all he can to resolve this dispute and to help make Birmingham a living wage city.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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You can reach me by email at richard@richardburden.com or use the form on the Contact page to send me a message.