‘RICH HUSBANDS AND MARKET FORCES’ – why Kensington and Chelsea Council refuses to pay London Living Wage

5 November 2013

Support OCS cleaners, LLW

TMO estate cleaning staff, Councillors and supporters on their second strike day in October 

Labour Councillors in Kensington and Chelsea are appalled at the callous response of the Conservative Majority group when asked to sign up to the London Living Wage.


The request, in a formal Motion at the last Council meeting, asked the Council to pay its own workers and all contractors a wage described by the Mayor of London as ‘what you need to pay the bills and feed your family’.


To back the argument an example was given, of OCS cleaning staff who work on Council estates for just £7.18/hour, less than minimum wage now of £7.65/hour, while the London Living Wage, which the GLA and countless London Councils and organisations subscribe to, is now £8.80/hour. One staff member, who had been on strike after hearing of a wage freeze, explained that this is the difference between nutritious food on the table and getting the bus to work, or inadequate food for the family and an hour’s walk to work before putting in an eight-hour day of manual labour, and an hour’s walk home.


No wonder staff sickness and absenteeism is a problem; this can be reduced by 25% on the introduction of the LLW.


The Cabinet Member put forward to refute the Motion, stated ‘women can earn less if their husbands are working’, ‘for many this would be a second job’ or ‘a family may have two earners’, and ‘these things are best left to the market’.


Cllr Emma Dent Coad, who proposed the Motion, says: ‘The feudal attitude of some members of the Conservative group left me almost speechless. This is a Council with £220m in Reserves, which it will gladly argue should be spent on opera, posh paving and statues, while some families cannot afford nutritious food, and we now have three Food Banks in the borough.


‘OCS is a huge international organisation employing 65,000 staff, with a turnover of £750m/year. It is simply unbelievable that neither the ‘richest’ Council, nor OCS have any sense of responsibility whatever to addressing the injustice of poor working families.’



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