Christmas has come early for some staff at Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, which will become the third local authority in the North to become a Living Wage employer next year.
The council has bowed to pressure from the Fermanagh Council of Trade Unions and the Unite union and will follow in the footsteps of Belfast City and Derry City and Strabane councils.
Workers in Fermanagh are paid some of the lowest average wages in the North and while relatively few council employees earn below the Living Wage threshold, set at £8.45 per hour, unions say they deserve a decent standard of living.
Unite Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly is now calling on other councils to follow suit and lead the fight against poverty pay.
“This is the latest success story in our campaign for workers to receive a Living Wage. Fermanagh and Omagh District Council corporate management are to be congratulated for their progressive response to campaigners on this issue.
“The decision means that all council employees will now be paid a minimum of £8.45 an hour. While this is certainly no ransom, the increase will be an early Christmas gift to those who previously received only the minimum wage.
“In taking this stand, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council have demonstrated the way forward for local employers. We are now calling for the remaining eight councils in Northern Ireland to show similar leadership on this issue.
“This result demonstrates the growing confidence among trade unionists in Fermanagh and Omagh, the council area with the highest number of manufacturing jobs in Northern Ireland but where pay is among the lowest in the region”, Mr Kelly added.
A council spokesman told the Herald: “On 1 November 2016 the Council took a decision to implement the Living Wage Foundation rate of pay from 1 April 2017. Because of the seasonal nature of a lot of our workforce we cannot determine at this point exactly how many employees will see an increase in their rate of pay from April. Our initial estimated cost of this was approximately £86,000 per annum. This estimate was recently revised to take account of the increased rate of £8.45 per hour which is applicable from April. We now estimate the cost to be between £95,000 and £100,000 per annum.”
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