UK workers given boost as Nationwide become first high street organisation to sign up to the living wage campaign



UK workers given boost as Nationwide become first high street organisation to sign up to the living wage campaign

The campaign to have a national living wage universally adopted by the countryís employers has been given a huge boost today after it was revealed that the UKís largest building society has signed up and issued their support for the initiative.

Nationwide announced that they have officially joined the ongoing Living Wage campaign, which has seen a number of organisations and individuals collectively lobby the government to instigate a universally applicable £7.65 an hour living wage that all employers must pay to staff and contractors.

They will now assume one of the principle partner roles for the campaign, and join other prominent organisations such as Aviva, KPMG, the Resolution Foundation and Trust for London in the fight to achieve fair wages for employees across the UK.

Rhys Moore, director of the Living Wage Foundation, has welcomed Nationwideís involvement in the initiative, arguing that the introduction of the countryís biggest building society into the list of the campaigners will have a significant impact on its success, as it will encourage other high street franchises to follow suit.

Mr Moore, said: "We are delighted to welcome Nationwide to the Living Wage movement as both principal partners of the Living Wage Foundation and accredited employers. As the UK's largest building society, this move brings the living wage to high streets across the country, and showcases that the best employers are voluntarily signing up to pay the living wage now."

Despite the fact that over 650 organisations and companies are believed to paying their employees the living wage, including major franchises such as Aviva and Transport for London, Nationwideís introduction to the campaign marks the first occasion that a high street institution has signed up and adopted the pay reform.

Since the schemes official introduction back in 2001, it has bolstered the salaries of tens of thousands of workers across the UK, contributing to an extra £210 million being given to so a multitude of the countryís lowest earners.

Nationwideís head of citizenship, Stephen Uden, identified that the move to join the campaign was consistent with their company philosophy as a mutual, adding that as the economic recovery continues to gather momentum that similarly large businesses followed suit and adopted the wage reform.

He said: "In lots of companies there are those almost invisible staff who serve you a coffee in the morning or the cleaner I see when I get into the office at 7am. And it is those people that work for the Nationwide that we feel should be appropriately rewarded whether they are directly working for us or not."

The news comes just a day after research data gathered by the Living Wage Foundation and Nationwide was released, which compellingly indicated that 85% of those surveyed believe that businesses who are financially capable of subsidising the costs of the higher living wage should adopt it into their pay structure.

And Uden outlined that Nationwide would now  function in a leadership role as they seek to convince the rest of the UKís business world to sign up and agree to pay their employees the living wage.

He said: "We will sit on the advisory council and help advise and steer where the campaign goes next, and also want to say to UK plc this is an idea whose time has come. Fair pay is something that clearly the majority of the public sign up to, something we sign up to, something our members sign up to, so as times get a little better economically take a look at it and see if you can do it too."

A recent survey conducted by the KPMG found that around 20% of British employees currently have a salary lower than the living wage, giving the UK the dubious honour of being second on the table of low-income workers within the OECD group of affluent nations.

When quizzed on which three expenses they would utilise the extra £148.07 each month on- the additional amount of money an employer stands to acquire when moving from the minimum wage to the living wage- most employees identified that they would use it on food, gas and electricity and housing payments.

Campaigners have pointed to this as clear evidence that universally wage would not only address the huge levels of economic inequality that mar the country at present, but also contribute significantly toward the countryís own economic recovery, with the extra consumer spending power likely to be pumped back into the economy.

Moreover, a separate study undertaken by the Greater London Authority concluded that businesses actually stood to benefit from adopting the living wage, as it was found that three quarters of employees surveyed reported a rise in the quality of their productivity after getting a pay rise, whilst four fifths of polled employers revealed that the new wage had improved the productivity of their staff.

Uden said: "There is strong evidence of a wider benefit. People feel more comfortable doing business with organisations that they trust and who pay a fair wage to their staff. For us it was a decision driven from a values perspective but in terms of selling it to other businesses there are some clear business benefits that derive from it that people should not underestimate.