21st December 2011
The decorations are up, the presents are wrapped and under the tree, the Hanukah menorah is ready to be lit, as another year of the Living Wage campaign draws to an end.
At this time of year, leaving aside the debate about the true meaning of Christmas, our attention is inevitably drawn to the fortunes of the high street. On ‘panic Saturday’ it was reported that £1.5m a minute was handed over the counter across the UK and retail analysts expect a further £8 billion will change hands before Christmas Day. In 2011 the Living Wage campaign lifted 1,476 employees out of poverty and put £33,420,114 into the pockets of some of the lowest paid people in the UK. The families of these employees will have a little bit extra in the pot this year and be able to put a little bit extra back into the economy.
Many of the staff on the UK high street are not so fortunate and will be working long hours across the holiday season for basic rates of pay. There are however notable exceptions. In 2011 Lush became the first major retailer to agree to pay its employees in London a Living Wage and earlier this month they received the London Citizens Living Wage Employer of the Year Award, which recognises their pioneering leadership on fair pay in the retail sector. Founder of Lush, Mark Constantine, accepted the award in characteristically humble style and called for the Living Wage to become standard practise so that the award he received would become obsolete in future years.
From all of us at the Living Wage Foundation, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, enjoy the holidays, and we look forward to rolling out accreditation to more employers from diverse sectors of the economy in the New Year.