KITCHEN staff in Camden schools say they are “disgusted” after being told by Town Hall leader Sarah Hayward that they must wait until 2016 before they will be paid the London living wage.
The Town Hall leadership was put on the spot at Monday’s full council meeting when workers warned councillors that families “could not cope”.
Protesters representing about 300 dinner ladies who cook and serve more than 8,000 school meals a day urged Camden Council to make contractor Caterlink increase their hourly rate to £9.15 – the level of the London living wage.
Unison representative Hugo Pierre said that the mainly female workforce currently receive just £6.60 an hour.
“We are asking now that this living wage is implemented and that you don’t save £460,000 [a year] off the backs of the poorest workers in the borough,” he told councillors. “These people work in difficult conditions. It’s hot, it’s dangerous work. It’s physically demanding, very exhausting work, leaving them with little time for their own children when they get back.”
But in response, Cllr Hayward ruled out a pay increase until the contract was renewed in 2016. She said Camden was committed to all contracted staff receiving the living wage in future, but added: “Doing it in one big bang would have cost us millions, which is why we wanted to renegotiate with contractors as contracts come up for renewal.”
Speaking afterwards, Lorraine Shaughnessy, who has served lunches at Torriano Junior School, in Kentish Town, for 10 years, said: “It’s disgusting. We can’t cope. A lot of colleagues have to get second jobs.
“If you finish work and go and pick up your child, you don’t want to say: ‘Mummy is going to take you home and feed you, but I can’t put you to bed because I’ve got to go to my other job.’ That’s not fair.”
Christmas was an increasingly difficult time for staff: “I feel sorry for people who have got young kids. I don’t know how they’re going to do it,” she said.
Ms Shaughnessy said she felt it was particularly insulting that Camden refused to negotiate pay before 2016, as neighbouring Islington had forced Caterlink to pay the London living wage when the contract was drawn up three years ago.
Read the full article at http://www.camdennewjournal.com/Living-Wage-dinnerladies
The article is followed by a comment piece entitled Why were our dinner ladies left with crummy wages?