The Living Wage and ‘life to the full’

Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign logoChurch Action on Poverty has supported the launch of the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign. Tom Skinner, the Campaign coordinator, reflects on how it’s going so far.

The Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign aims to make Greater Manchester a Living Wage Zone; to challenge low pay; to put Living Wage policy and a culture of social equality at the heart of how Greater Manchester works. We would like to see hundreds of local employers paying all their staff the national Living Wage of £7.65 per hour, to give workers a better standard of living in which they don’t have to choose between food or warmth, entertainment or security.

Launch of the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign

Launch of the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign

I have had the privilege of coordinating the campaign since our October 2013 launch at a Churches Together event in Salford, and am hugely grateful to Church Action on Poverty, and the churches of Greater Manchester, for helping to get the Campaign to this point. We’re off to a great start – dozens of local activists, church-goers and organisations already support the campaign, and many of those churches and organisations are now working towards becoming Living Wage employers themselves. Bishops have written to council leaders across Greater Manchester calling on them to pay a Living Wage, and at the time of writing Salford City Council is leading the way as the only Living Wage employer among the councils.

We have called on Manchester City and United Football Clubs to pay a Living Wage, a call picked up and echoed by many people on social media, or writing personal letters to the clubs. It is early days but we are already seeing some internal shifts within big employers, and hope for these to lead to real changes in the lives of thousands of workers across the region.

I have earned less than a Living Wage throughout most of my working life, but have usually had certain safety nets that not everyone can rely on. Despite experiencing low pay, I cannot imagine the desperation faced by people such as these respondents to the Greater Manchester Poverty Commission:

“Poverty is about boredom. It is groundhog day of poverty, the monotony of routine without variety of options.”

“Poverty means having to live hand to mouth and go through life without any luxuries.”

“We are left out of society. We live hand to mouth: we have no outings, no holidays, nothing.”

Jesus said he came so people could have “life to the full” (John 10:10), and it is this massive gap between his statements and ideals, and the reality we are faced with today, that spurs me and many others on as we seek to change Greater Manchester.

If you live in the region, please join the Campaign today, so we can work together for a Living Wage across Greater Manchester.

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