Cleaners at a Langley Mill school have spoken out against what they claim is an ‘unfair’ decision to exclude them from receiving the ‘Living Wage’.
Derbyshire County Council adopted the minimum hourly wage from April 1, which means more then 3,000 school employees across the county, including cleaners, school catering assistants and school crossing patrol staff, are now be paid £7.65 an hour.
But governors at Aldercar Community Language College agreed to opt out of the agreement, which means the 15 cleaners employed at the Daltons Close school are still paid £6.86 an hour.
One cleaner at the school, who asked not to be named, said: “It seems unfair when all the kitchen staff are getting it. We’re the only ones in the school who aren’t.
“So why have the governors of Aldercar Commmunity Language College made the decision not to pay the Living Wage to the cleaners and only the cleaners?
“I would like to know why the cleaners have been singled out to be treated this way? They say they are going to save money, but the cleaners are only working there for two or three hours a day.
“How much money will that save?”
Governors informed the cleaners they would not receive the Living Wage ‘at this time’ in a letter dated March 31.
James Shephard, vice -chairman of the governors, said: “The governors gave this considerable thought and took the decision not to participate this financial year and to review it again for the next financial year starting April 2015. This was a difficult decision, but governors feel it is the right one considering other school employees may be facing potential redundancies later this year.”
A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said: “We made the decision to pay all employees who work directly for the council the Living Wage.
“We are encouraging all schools to pay Living Wage, but each governing body has to make that decision – the council cannot decide for them.
“Governing bodies are responsible for their school’s budgets.”
County council leader Ann Western (Lab) said: “Many hard working employees are struggling to make ends meet because of spiralling food, fuel and energy prices.
“Putting more money in people’s pockets will mean a boost for the local economy as most of our staff live locally.
“Paying the Living Wage means that we will take many hard working families out of poverty and low pay and reduce the benefits bill.”
The Living Wage is an hourly rate set independently and updated annually according to the basic cost of living in the UK. Employers choose to pay or not pay it. Living Wage enjoys cross-party support, with public backing from Prime Minister David Cameron and the Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband.
Rhys Moore, director of the Living Wage Foundation said: “Living Wage Week is about employers taking a lead and tackling the problem of low pay.