South London businesses renew commitment to low-paid workers with pledge to pay London Living Wage

Low-paid workers deserve better and should be paid the London Living Wage , demand South London business leaders who are committed to paying employees more than £9 per hour.

The London Living Wage, which represents the basic hourly rate required to live in the capital, was bumped up to £9.15 last week, almost £3 more than the minimum wage of £6.50.

Rabbi Janet Darley, who works at South London Liberal Synagogue in Streatham, said paying the rate showed respect for employees.

“This is something we feel it would not be morally right to scrimp on,” said Rabbi Darley, 64, who lives in Kingston.

Rabbi Janet Darley

“We have a couple of older women who clean the synagogue and they rely on this money.

“It’s about paying everyone fairly so that people who work for us are being treated with respect and not with the attitude that you are just a cleaner so it doesn’t matter.”

The synagogue has been paying its employees the London Living Wage since earlier this year.

Blue Strawberry and Table Talk, specialist catering and party planning firms in Stockwell, have been accredited Living Wage employers for almost two years.

Sales and marketing director Ruth Lawton-Owen said the company wanted to set an example to others in their field.

Living Wage Foundation Photo

She said: “We are very much a leader in our field of catering and it is a sector where they struggle to get Living Wage employers.

“We wanted to get across that people in this sector do want to be responsible.”

Ms Lawton-Owen said that it was unrealistic to expect people to live in the capital on less than £9 per hour.

She said: “Everybody is squeezed on costs, everybody wants to get the best deal but I do not think that should come at the expense of somebody being paid a poor wage.”

A number of councils in South West London, including Merton and Lambeth, also pay the rate.

The London Living Wage is calculated annually by the Greater London Authority and includes the cost of housing, childcare and a typical weekly shop.

Announcing the new rate last week, Boris Johnson said that more than 400 companies are now paying the rate.

The Living Wage Campaign was set up in 2001 by London Citizens, a community organising group who work with local people to lobby for change.

Ana Ferreira, a community organiser with South London Citizens, said that businesses would soon see the benefits of adopting the London Living Wage.

“The turnover of staff is lower if you are happy in your job and earning a good salary, you don’t want to leave,” said Ms Ferreira, 26.

“This will give them a relationship of trust with the employer and encourage them to stay around for a longer time.

“The Living Wage can offer the opportunity to pay for your basic needs. The minimum wage ends up putting people in poverty.”

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