Fair Pay

By Yousif Farah

Last week saw the launch of the Fair Pay Fortnight, which is an awareness fortnight sponsored by TUC. The fortnight is held to raise awareness about the cost of living crisis in the country, mainly caused by the imbalanced policies regarding pay rise verses rocketing prices.

In the past five years general commodities’ prices have gone up by almost 20% whereas, pay rises for the majority of the public have only increased by a modest 3%.

Government officials blame the lag between pay rise and inflation on the recent economic turmoil. However, in research carried out by Landman Economics, who provide Government organisations and think tanks with consultancy services, it was established that for every 1% increase in public sector pay rounds, £675 million of extra value is injected into the economy and around 14,000 full-time jobs are created. 

Francis O’Grady head of the TUC says:

“The simple truth is that many employers can afford to pay more. For large companies in sectors such as food production, banking, construction and software/computing - which employ over 1 million low- wage workers - paying all staff the living wage would mean an increase of less than 0.5 per cent of the total wage bill.

Another topic which is expected to be highlighted in the campaign is zero hour contracts, which are spreading rapidly, according to the Office Of National Statistics 3.4 million of the UK workforce are on such contracts and 1.3m where no hours were worked. A zero hour contract is a contract with no guarantee of hours, only those benefits protected by law, such as holiday leave, are guaranteed.

The irony is that many of the organisations implicated in zero hours contracts, or those who are falling short of paying their employees a fair living wage, are mega organisations such as Sports Direct and McDonalds who both have 90% of their workforce working under zero hour contracts.

Pub chain Weatherspoon, Burger King, Starbucks and many other big names including The Church of England, have also been heavily criticised in the mainstream media and accused of sending mixed messages. See the In My Shoes blog on the same topic.

Mr Justin Welby, head of the Church of England, had called on employers to be responsible and pay their fair share of tax as well as pay their employees a fair living wage. Mr Welby admitted that it is embarrassing for the church to be found to be not paying the living wage. However, he puts it down to the complex Administrative nature of the Establishment.

“The Church remains committed to all parishes, cathedrals and dioceses paying the rate as soon as possible. But due to the make-up of the Church of England - the fact that each church and cathedral is a separate charity - this had to happen gradually.”

Such organisations are leading in their fields and should surely be leading by example, providing a guide to smaller and emerging businesses and also sending a message that employees are the backbone of any business and should be treated accordingly.

At Poached Creative and in many social enterprise organisations, despite our limited resources, we always aim to create suitable and fair working conditions for our employees, that includes paying them a living wage.

Last spring we received an award for our commitment to pay the London Living Wage at the Hackney Citizen Mayoral Assembly.

Jessica Smith director at Poached Creative says:

“The cost of living in Hackney is rising and we would like to see more businesses in the borough supporting their employees with fair pay and good employment conditions.

“Helping unemployed and disadvantaged people into employment is what Poached is all about and we have always aimed to be a model of good employment practice. The London Living Wage accreditation is public recognition of our commitment to our employees and our community.” 

To find out more about the living wage campaign visit The Living Wage Foundation or to take part in the fortnight visit Fair Pay Fortnight.

Be different this Valentine's Day - make a difference

By Martin Kitara

Valentines Day is upon us. This year, weve set out to inspire you smug loved-up couples to go on dates that make a difference. You can make a difference by finding a local social enterprise in your area.
You can help a good cause on this bittersweet holiday by volunteering your time, donating to your or your sweetheart's favourite cause, or by talking about your favourite social enterprise on social media and encouraging friends to support their cause. 

If you are planning a quiet night in,
Hidden Art an award winning social enterprise has some quirky homewares and innovative gift solutions for you and your partner. Hidden Art offers unique and exclusive design-led products from a network of designers working out of East London.

Why not sponsor a Vineyard?
Forty Hall Vineyard is London's only commercial-scale vineyard, with big ambitions to produce and sell organic white and sparkling wine to benefit the local community by providing health and well-being projects. 

If you
re planning a night out why not try The Brigade Bar and Grill or The Waterhouse Restaurant.  Both have great menus for Valentines Day. The eateries are social enterprises that work to help disadvantaged people develop skills to empower and improve their lives. 

London has a lot of social enterprise eateries to choose from that are centered on helping others. Why not check out if SEUK’s social enterprise directory that can help you find a social enterprise near you? Theyre all definitely worth trying.

For singletons,
there might not be romance in your lives but dont allow that to get you down. We understand that even for the happiest of singletons Valentines Day can be a nightmare, with reminders of love and romance hard to avoid. We also know there have been years when some of you have felt like fleeing the country around this period. Its the stress you see. We understand.

You can check out Two Finger's Brewing Co's  range of craft beers. The brewery donates all its profits to Prostate Cancer UK.

If you
 dont have anybody to spoil this Valentines Day, why not take it as an opportunity to spoil yourself and your friends? You can join in and make a difference too by supporting your cause or social enterprise.

Or, perhaps you and your friends could spend the evening treating yourselves to a bit of pampering, cook yourself a nice meal or have a relaxing bath with candles and a glass of champagne.
Clarity which has been enabling blind and disabled people to gain the skills and confidence makes some great pampering products.

With no one else
s feelings to consider, youre free to spend the day doing whatever you want and to make it a special day just for you. Even better you and your friends can have a get together?

Whatever you decide to do, we hope you enjoy yourself, take inspiration from a local
social enterprise and do some good for society.