A fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.
That’s never struck me as a particularly controversial statement, but back in 1997 it’s a battle we had to fight.
Introducing the National Minimum Wage was a massive achievement and, like our NHS, even the Tories who were so against it at the time wouldn’t dare scrap it now.
But over the years the minimum wage has barely kept pace with inflation.
In-work poverty is on the rise, and there are now thousands of workers here in Hucknall and across Nottinghamshire who don’t earn enough even for the basics.
That means this winter too many families will make a choice between heating and eating.
I believe work should always pay enough for a decent standard of living.
When I left Holgate School in Hucknall , I worked in a shop.
They tried every excuse not to pay us properly, and we had to fight to be paid the new minimum wage.
Now I’m fighting for a ‘Living Wage’ for all.
That’s an hourly rate calculated to show the basic cost of living in the UK, and the best employers are already voluntarily signing up to pay it.
It’s been worked out that because the cost of essentials keeps on going up, an average worker now needs to be paid £7.85 per hour to meet a basic standard of living – £50 a week more than the minimum wage.
Nearly a million workers across the Midlands take home less than the living wage.
Around here the picture is even worse: across our area almost one in three employees and more than half of those working part-time are paid less than the living wage.
You’ll hear plenty of arguments against paying decent wages, but the truth is they’re the same arguments we faced and beat last time round.
It’s just not good enough for big companies - making hundreds of millions in profit each year - to pay staff a wage which doesn’t pay the bills.
That’s why I’ve asked Hucknall councillors, representatives from small businesses, the public sector and campaigning organisations to join me in setting up a local Living Wage Association.
We will be working with local businesses to help them understand how the Living Wage can work for them and for Hucknall, and we’ll be listening to views too on how to achieve a living wage for all.
If you are interested in getting involved, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.