We recently caught up with Councillor Kate Campbell, Chair of the Edinburgh Living Wage Action Group. Kate was elected as the SNP councillor for the Portobello/Craigmillar ward in 2017. She is also the Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Convener at the City of Edinburgh Council.
Tell us about your organisation and your role as Chair of the Edinburgh City Living Wage Action Group
I’m a councillor at the City of Edinburgh Council. We’ve made Fair Work one of our key priorities through this administration, and so making Edinburgh a Living Wage City is a natural progression of that.
As Chair of the Action Group, my role is to facilitate discussion around our actions and priorities, bring partners across the city on board and make sure we are properly monitoring our progress. It’s a very lovely role to have.
Why do you think the real Living Wage is more important than ever?
It’s been clear how important fair pay is for a long time – but the last few weeks have made it not just important, but utterly crucial. When we hear terrifying predictions, like the fall in the standard of living is likely to be the worst since the 1950s, we have to do everything we can as a city to protect people from that. One of the most straightforward ways to do that is make sure that people can live off their wages.
With the cost-of-living crisis, rising inflation and rising energy costs – wages just have to keep up. Most employers want to make that commitment to their staff – that their wages will cover their living costs so signing up to be a Living Wage employer is a really simple way to send that clear message to their current staff, and any potential staff. And with many businesses struggling to recruit right now, there’s a very strong incentive for businesses to become accredited.
Why do you think committing to the real Living Wage is important to the City of Edinburgh as a whole?
We’re the capital city of Scotland and economically, even through Brexit and the pandemic, we been more resilient than most. As we have done with climate change, we have a responsibility to lead the way. We have too much inequality in our city and one of the best ways to tackle that is to make sure that everyone gets paid enough to not have to worry about paying their bills. This isn’t just good for workers, it benefits businesses and our society as a whole.
What do you think are the barriers that must be overcome to see more workers in Edinburgh paid the real Living Wage?
Getting more businesses to understand the real benefits of becoming an accredited Living Wage employer. We want to do this by sharing stories of businesses that have become accredited, and the benefits they’ve seen for worker morale, productivity and staff retention. There are so many benefits, but attracting, and keeping, a happy workforce that feels valued is something every business must aspire to.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Helping people. Whether it’s small things for individuals, or bigger policy changes that benefit people across the city.
What’s been getting you through the pandemic?
Sunshine and my loved ones.
What are you hoping for in the next year?
That we get through what has been a really tough few years together, taking everyone with us. I hope we can hold onto the compassion that has been characteristic of our collective response to the pandemic, and now the horrendous war in Ukraine, and use that to shape a better society.