In the latter part of 2020, while working in a bustling kitchen at a busy school in Ealing, I stumbled upon the London Living Wage campaign when reading about some local commitments made by the council regarding fair pay. Intrigued by the platform and its commitment to ensuring a truly equitable and liveable wage for individuals in various industries, I felt it was only fair to delve deeper into their cause. My intention was to explore how it could benefit not only my kitchen team but also the 350 workers employed across 65 schools.
As I found myself slightly out of my depth, I sought advice from my long-time friend Andy Portlock, the CEO of Hadley, and Matt Griffiths-Rimmer, the Communications Director. They shared my belief that we too deserved a fair wage and provided invaluable guidance and encouragement throughout this journey in the subsequent months.
By May, with the involvement of UNISON and support from the Living Wage Foundation, we worked with Ealing Council to achieve a remarkable 20% increase in wages. This significant pay rise was extended to the 350 predominantly female workers under the contract, making a tremendous difference in our lives.
Following that success, Hadley offered to support my campaign to support the delivery of the Living Wage to Living Wage accredited organisations across London. With the newly formed Ealing Living Wage Alliance (@EalingLWA), we have worked with Ealing Council to expedite a pay rise for hundreds of Ealing care workers in 2022 and persuaded a local four-school-academy to accredit and pay the LLW to 50+ cleaners and kitchen staff.
Ealing Council subsequently audited their Living Wage contracts, changed procurement protocols and set out more ambitious Living Wage accreditation targets for Ealing employers.
This year we embarked on a national campaign with UNISON to get 6000+ Church Schools to fulfil their Living Wage pledge of 2014, recently standing outside the General Synod to buttonhole CofE Bishops.
The new 2023-24 real Living Wage rates were announced on the 24th October as £12 across the UK, £13.15 in London.
At Hadley, I now support the delivery of community engagement and provide advice on how to ensure the Living Wage is paid by contractors during the construction phase and in the completed development.
Impressed by the way Hadley engages with communities, at all stages of development, I hope my role as an ‘industry outsider’ might be a strength. Since joining the Hadley team, it has been great to see many of our partners become Living Wage accredited, such as the Stratford Gateway training facility, one of Hadley's meanwhile providers at IQL North.
Whilst London has a long way to go, we are making strides in the right direction. With a particular interest in how a Living Wage legacy might be embedded and encouraged in future Regeneration Developments, I look forward to continuing working towards this cause with Hadley.