More than 2,100 Catholic schools are being encouraged and supported to become Living Wage employers, following a resolution passed by the Catholic Bishops' Conference. The resolution has sparked a landmark agreement between UNISON, the UK's largest union, and the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales (CES) to celebrate Living Wage Week (4 - 8 November). The schools are being given a step-by-step implementation plan produced by the union, covering both directly employed and contracted out staff to help them win Living Wage accreditation.
The 2012 Living Wage resolution 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."
This year, UNISON's evidence to the Low Pay Commission included testimonies from low paid workers across the country, highlighting the misery and stress on millions of families struggling to cope on poverty wages.
In addition to encouraging schools to pay the Living Wage, the CES have produced school resources on the Living Wage for use in the classroom and the wider Catholic community.
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."
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."
The new Living Wage rate for outside London is £7.65 per hour and is set by Loughborough University using Minimum Income Standard methodology developed by the Family Budget Unit and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation;
The London Living Wage (LLW) is set by Greater London Authority (GLA) and is £8.80 per hour.
The Living Wage Resources can be found at www.catholiceducation.org.uk