We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Councillor Christian Allard. He has been an elected councillor for Torry and Ferryhill, part of Aberdeen City Council since 2017. He is also the Convener of the Anti-Poverty and Inequality Committee at Aberdeen City Council
Tell us about your organisation and your role.
As the Convener of the Anti-Poverty and Inequality Committee at Aberdeen City Council which work includes the real Living Wage, I am the elected councillor for the communities of Torry and Ferryhill who took on the role of championing the real Living Wage across the city.
Why is paying the real Living Wage important for your organisation?
We earned our Living Wage accreditation back in 2017, this was our starting point leading by example to encourage more employers, including in the private sector, to follow suit. We want everyone in the city to have the same opportunities, regardless of their background or circumstances. Our aim is to reach 95% of working people to be in real Living Wage employment by 2026.
Why do you think committing to the real Living Wage is important for workers in Aberdeen/more widely?
Recruiting and retaining employees is always a challenge in the Granite City with an energy sector having a major impact on the local economy. The perception of Aberdeen as a high-wage and prosperous economy is true for most, it is also true that not everyone has benefitted from that prosperity, Aberdeen is certainly not immune from in work poverty. The City has a very unequal pay structure with stark differences between the highest and lowest earners. Annual income varies greatly by sector and neighbourhood. In 2021, we had over 13% of adults who work across the city earning less than the Living Wage. It is not only about the number of employers getting the real Living Wage accreditation, it is also and more importantly about the number of employees earning the real Living Wage in the City.
What do you think are the barriers that must be overcome to see more workers paid the real Living Wage?
Awareness seems to be the biggest barrier in Aberdeen, the second one is the confusion between the real Living Wage and the National Living Wage and the last one is for organisations who are already paying the real Living Wage to understand that the accreditation process is crucial to strengthen the value of the real Living Wage.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The freedom to make an impact, how small it is, to the lives of people locally. Becoming a real Living Wage City is very much part of this work, the present cost of living crisis makes it a priority.
What is your favourite view in the world?
Looking at dolphins from the Greyhope Bay café in Torry, Aberdeen. When you come to the city, head up for the Torry Battery where you will find a fantastic dolphin viewing centre with a great café, offering a ready-made canvas and unique window to the sea.
What are you most looking forward to?
Spending more time with my grandchildren, taking them to watch the dolphins playing and the ships and ferries coming in and out of the harbour, while sipping on a hot cup of chocolate.