Lyn gave a detailed and sober speech describing the scale of the problem in Newham, with research that shows 20% of Newham workers earn less than the living wage and the impact that such low pay has on deprivation and crime. She also pointed out that raising pay levels alone will not be enough due to the extraordinary high level of rents in Newham. The benefit and tax system will also need to be reformed. The continued failure to treat Newham as an inner city borough with regard to the Government financial settlement also needs to be successfully challenged.
There was a wide ranging discussion with contributions from everybody present. Following which we decided: -
1. To Campaign for a Living Wage in Newham.
2. To work in partnership with Newham Labour group, Newham MP's Lyn Brown and Stephen Timms, other relevant elected politicians and local community groups (TELCO/Community Links) to achieve this aim.
3. A working Party should be set up to plan ahead John Saunders (UCU), Cllr Jon Knotts (UNISON), Cllr David Griffin (Amicus), Gloria Hanson (UNISON), John Whitworth (UCU), Cllr Amarjit Singh (TSSA) and me (UNISON).
4. It was proposed to identify several large employers (The Council, universities/colleges, Banks, Supermarkets? ) located in the borough and approach them to find out what they pay staff. If they fail to pay a living wage then to engage with these employers in order to make them change their mind.
5. Including approaching Pension fund trustees to consider lobbying fund managers and company AGMs?
7. Encourage trade union membership in Newham as the best way in the long term of improving pay and conditions.