Corporation defends Living Wage promise

Beech Street Tunnel

THE City Corporation has pledged to do more to honour its commitment to being a Living Wage Employer after it was claimed security personnel at a recent public art event in Beech Street tunnel were paid less than the London Living Wage.

The authority funded a sound and light installation on 16 and 17 March as part of its Culture Mile programme and Barbican OpenFest.

However, questions were raised over the Corporation’s accreditation as a Living Wage Employer after a local resident who attended the event was told by one security officer that he was being paid £9 per hour, well below the London Living Wage of £10.20 per hour.

The Corporation is among 17 local authorities in Greater London to make the voluntary commitment to ensure both staff and contractors are paid the Living Wage, which is calculated based on the real cost of living in the Capital and is well above the compulsory National Minimum Wage of £7.50 per hour.

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Security officers patrolling the Beech Street sound and light installation were only paid £9 per hour, a resident claims.

Pat Kenyon said she was shocked to learn security staff at the event were not being paid according to the pledge, and raised the issue at her wardmote for Aldersgate last week.

According to its website, the Corporation has a contract with Irish-based Noonan Services Group for security services, but a spokesperson did not confirm whether its employees were working the event.

The spokesperson said staff had not worked enough hours to be covered under the Living Wage commitment.

“The guidance applies where suppliers employ contracted staff who work two or more hours in any given day in the week for eight or more consecutive weeks in a year.

“This meant that Beech Street security guards were not covered as it was a one-off event.”

The baseline number of hours was set by the Living Wage Foundation

According to Living Wage Foundation head of partnerships and operations Graham Griffiths, this baseline number of hours was set to ensure all staff members involved in the day-to-day running of a business are covered by the Living Wage even if they are outsourced to a contractor.

“We do look at companies on an individual basis to determine whether their employment practices fit the spirit of this agreement,” he said.

“We also encourage all employers to extend their Living Wage commitment to all workers, including temporary workers.”

The City of London has pledged to “strengthen its commitment” to the scheme, promising to review its guidelines to cover all contract workers across the board.

“The City of London Corporation is proud to be a London Living Wage Employer, which has meant significant increases in wages for some of our lowest-paid staff.

“However, this has shown there is a need to do more. We will now look at strengthening our commitment to pay the Living Wage to all people working for us regardless of the contract value and hours worked.”

Noonan Services Group has been contacted for comment.

Cover Image by N Chadwick (Creative Commons).