Dundee celebrates Living Wage City milestone

07 March 2024

A city wide partnership, Making Dundee a Living Wage City, has hit a major milestone in reaching its 5th anniversary.

In 2019 Dundee was the first city in the UK to adopt the new place-based approach which aims to drive uptake in the real Living wage by local businesses.

Paying the real Living Wage is all about getting fair payment for the work done. It is beneficial for workers and employers as it improves staff retention rates leading to reduced costs for businesses in the long term.

Launched on March 6th, the campaign pulled together major local employers such as Dundee City Council, Dundee Voluntary Action, Dundee & Angus College, Xplore Dundee and Dundee & Angus Chamber of Commerce together to agree to work as an action group to promote the Living Wage in the city and take forward agreed commitments.

These commitments were the foundations of the city’s Living Wage Action Plan and included:

  • Sign up other major employers in the city.
  • Encourage employers in retail and hospitality to commit to the real Living Wage.
  • Support and celebrate small businesses who join the Living Wage employer movement.

The first five years of the alliance that have followed have seen significant progress on this as well as many highlights.

In Year 1: The campaign was launched at accredited organisation DC Thomson. In the first year 33 new businesses became accredited including V&A Dundee and Abertay University. A celebration event for the first year was held in the City Chambers to mark the success of the campaign.

In Year 2: Despite issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Action Group secured the commitment that all businesses and employers in the Central Waterfront area would be required to pay at least the real Living Wage rate. Dundee Heritage Trust, who run Verdant Works and Discovery Point, honoured their commitment to paying the real Living Wage to all employees by gaining their accreditation as a Living Wage organisation.

In Year 3: Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) and the Dundee Science Centre became Living Wage accredited employers. The Action Group also led a very successful stencil campaign during Living Wage Week.

In Year 4: Following the successful first 3 years of Making Dundee a LW city, the Dundee Action Group re-launched the campaign for the next 3 years and held a celebration event. A major milestone was achieved, when Wallace Veterinary Centre became our 100th Living Wage employer in Dundee. In addition, Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre joined the family of Dundee-based Living Wage employers. NHS Tayside, the largest employer in the Tayside region, announced their accreditation during Living Wage Week.

In Year 5: University of Dundee, one of the largest employers in the city, became a Living Wage accredited employer. The accreditation of Hotel Indigo and Staybridge Suites was a significant breakthrough for the hospitality sector in Dundee.

Additionally the campaign, driven forward by the Dundee Living Wage Action Group, was recognised by both the Scottish & UK-wide Living Wage organisation leading to the following awards being received:

Outstanding Leadership award in November of 2019 by Living Wage Scotland, in recognition of being the pioneers of the approach to Making Living Wage Places.

Recognised by the Living Wage Foundation for commitment to the Living Wage and announced as the winner of the ‘Places Champion Award 2021’.

Winner of the “Living Wage Week campaign” category at the 2022 Living Wage Champions Awards.

The Living Wage Scotland Awards 2023 ceremony took place at the V&A Dundee where Cllr Lynne Short was presented with an award for ‘Outstanding Contribution’ to the Living Wage Movement.

Councillor Steven Rome, Convener of Fair Work, Economic Growth and Infrastructure said: “I am delighted by all the work that has been happening over the past 5 years regarding the Making Dundee a Living Wage City Campaign. Dundee is a leader in this area and it is right that we recognise the achievements and milestones that have been reached.

“I am encouraged that despite challenges associated with the pandemic and the cost of living crisis that the Living Wage Action Group are working hard with local businesses, both accredited and not, to continue to promote paying the real Living Wage and it is making a difference to the lives of our citizens.

“I would encourage any business out there thinking of becoming accredited to get in touch. Living Wage Scotland and the Action Group are always ready to help and support you to become a Living Wage accredited employer.”

Rachel Morrison-McCormick. Living Wage Projects Co-Ordinator said: “Congratulations to the Dundee Action Group on this milestone of 5 years of their ambition to make Dundee a Living Wage City. Over this time, we have seen fantastic growth in the number of accredited Living Wage employers in the city with iconic employers such as Dundee University, V&A Dundee and Dundee Industrial Heritage joining the movement.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the Action Group to grow the number of accredited employers in the city and call on more employers to join the movement, ensuring more workers in Dundee can earn at least the real Living Wage.”

An event marking the anniversary was held on March 6th, in the City Chambers, with a further celebration event with local businesses and partners planned.

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