The remuneration of junior media workers is a subject of interest to me. In June of this year I wrote about a successful and almost entirely effortless campaign to have interns employed by the British Science Association paid the London Living Wage of £8.30 per hour, rather than the legal Minimum Wage of £6.08. This is but one example of NUJ intervention in support of early career journalists; there are others, and there is also the wider campaign in in support of the Living Wage.
The Living Wage is in the news again following the publication of a KPMG survey which shows that nearly five million UK workers earn less than this amount. Around one in five of the entire working population! Downward pressure on wages during an economic recession is one thing, but this is a structural issue that goes deeper than the current financial situation.
In support of the Living Wage we have hard numbers. Not only do you get more out of employees who are treated well, but there is no evidence that a modest upward pressure on wages at the base results in escalating pay demands further up the food chain. BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders has more on this.
With London mayor Boris Johnson and other Tory politicians supporting the Living Wage, one thing is certain: we have a considerable head of steam built up behind this campaign. But the pressure must be kept up, and this will come in part from such initiatives as Living Wage Week, which takes place from 4–10 November. Living Wage Week is described as “a celebration of all things Living Wage, with events in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Birmingham”.
Canny employers are lining up to associate themselves with this no-brainer of employment policy and practice. It is an investment which makes sound business sense. How many of Britain’s media concerns are behind the Living Wage I do not know, but NUJ members are looking into this, and from those who work in this industry I would be keen to know if their employers are on board.