Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has called on the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority to ensure the authority’s cleaners are paid in line with the London Living Wage of £7.20 per hour.
The Living Wage represents the Greater London Authority’s estimation of the minimum a person must earn to avoid falling below the poverty line and is calculated to reflect the higher costs of living in the capital compared to the rest of the UK.
At a meeting yesterday of the LFEPA Finance, Procurement and Property Committee three Conservative members voted against paying contract cleaners at or above the £7.20 per hour rate. The issue will now be discussed at a full meeting of LFEPA on 21st June.
In a statement issued by his office Mayor Livingstone described the vote against the motion as “the nasty wing of politics”.
“We are now seeing relentless attacks from Assembly members, such as Brian Coleman, on policies to ease cost of living for Londoners on the lowest incomes, from votes on the London Assembly to abolish free bus and tram travel for 18,252 Barnet children, to this attempt to block a decent wage for fire station cleaners.”
The Mayor’s words were echoed by MPs who tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons condemning. Dawn Butler MP who sponsored the EDM said “it is vital that when the full London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority board meets on the 21st June to discuss this matter, they vote to pay a decent wage to cleaners for their hard work, rather than poverty pay.”
However Mr Coleman, who serves as LFEPA’s Vice Chairman, warned that the increase in pay could see four stations close.
“Paying London Fire Station cleaners the London Living wage of £7.20, as Labour’s Val Shawcross suggested, is just ridiculous. A wage hike to those levels is equivalent to the cost of running four stations.”
“If we went ahead with this pay deal, the money would have to come from somewhere and she needs to say where. Do we close four fire stations to pay for it?”