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Bishops encourage schools to implement Living Wage

Bishops keen for 1,200 schools to introduce Living Wage (CNS)

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference for England and Wales (CBCEW) is encouraging more than 1,200 schools to work towards the implementation of a ‘Living Wage’ for all their employees.

The initiative follows a landmark deal between Unison and the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales, which means that Catholic schools will follow an implementation programme designed by Unison, developed to ensure that all staff are paid the Living Wage.

Last year the CBCEW passed a resolution which recognised “that fair wages are essential to the common good of our society. In accordance with Catholic social teaching, and as part of its mission to support the poor and vulnerable, the Bishops’ Conference fully endorses the principle of the Living Wage and encourages Catholic organisations and charities in England and Wales to work towards its implementation.”

As part of encouraging schools to pay the Living Wage, the Catholic Education Service will be distributing school resources for use in the classroom.

Paul Barber, director of the Catholic Education Service said: “The Living Wage is an inherently Catholic concept and the importance of paying a just wage to the worker and their family can be found in Catholic Social Teaching for over a century.

“Our online resources examine the Catholic Social Teaching behind this family wage as well as providing practical steps to becoming a Living Wage employer.

“I congratulate those Catholic schools, colleges and universities who are already Living Wage employers and thank them for the great example they set us in their work for the Common Good.”

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: “I am delighted that Unison is working so closely with the Catholic Education Service to encourage schools to pay the living wage. Times are tough and low paid workers are struggling under the burden of rising prices for basics like food and fuel.

“Schools and heads are under a lot of pressure and that is why Unison wants to make it easier for them to win Living Wage accreditation by producing a step-by-step guide. Having that accreditation sends out a strong message that this school is one that takes its responsibilities to its staff and the wider community seriously.”

Other Catholic charities also welcomed the announcement. Helen O’Brien, chief executive of the Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN), the domestic social action agency of the Catholic Church, said: “Many Catholic charities are increasingly witnessing more families living in ‘in-work poverty’ and struggling to afford the very basic costs of living such as food, utilities and rent payments. We recognise the importance of just wages as well as fair terms and conditions of employment.”

“CSAN is committed to the principle of a Living Wage, which not only enables individuals to provide materially for their families but also allows them to spend quality time with their children”.

Chris Bain, director of Cafod, said: “Scripture makes many references to the importance of paying a right and just wage for work done. Although we were already paying the Living Wage for our staff before the joining the campaign, our Facilities Manager was also able to secure a Living Wage for the contract staff who deliver some of the services for Cafod through third parties.

“We also feel that it was important to become a Living Wage employer as an expression of our solidarity with the principles of a paying a living wage and with those individuals and organisations striving to achieve fair pay.”