March 24, 2015

Union protests at property giant’s living wage stance

Construction union UCATT has held a protest at the offices of the UK’s largest commercial property company over its failure to ensure that construction workers on its sites are paid the London Living Wage.

UCATT said that although Land Securities made pre-tax profits of £1,108.9 million in 2014 and its commercial portfolio was valued at £11.9 billion, some workers on its sites were paid just £7 per hour. The London Living Wage is £9.15 an hour.

Jerry Swain, regional secretary for UCATT London and the South East, said: “Construction is a hard physical industry and workers are outside in all weathers. The London Living Wage is the minimum that workers need in order to live in London.”

UCATT held the protest outside Land Securities’ London office on 24 February after writing to the company, urging it to ensure that the Living Wage was paid on all their sites and offering to meet to discuss the issue. Land Securities declined the offer.

Last September, Canary Wharf Group became the first major UK property and construction company to be accredited as a London Living Wage employer. Mayor of London Boris Johnson said at the time: “I hope this spurs on even more organisations to do the right thing.”

While the Living Wage is voluntary, employers must pay the National Minimum Wage, the main rate of which will increase to £6.70 an hour from October 2015.

The government announced on 17 March that it had accepted the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation for a three per cent rise from the current level of £6.50, the largest real terms increase in the NMW since 2008. Also from October there will be:

  • a 17p (three per cent) increase in the rate for 18 to 20-year-olds (from £5.13 to £5.30 per hour)
  • an 8p (two per cent) increase in the rate for 16 to 17-year-olds (from £3.79 to £3.87 per hour)
  • a 57p (20 per cent) increase in the rate for apprentices from £2.73 to £3.30 per hour.

At Palmers, we can advise on all aspects of employment law, including those relating to the national minimum wage and other statutory payments. Our HR package also offers regularly updated sample policies for these issues.

For more information and guidance, please visit our website or contact Lara Murray.