BLOGS

London, the Living Wage and the end of Poverty

The Centre for Theology & Community l

This is a summary of a talk given by Tim Thorlby, Managing Director of Clean for Good (and also Development Director of the Centre for Theology & Community) at an event on 10th July 2018 organised by Capital Mass, The St Paul’s Institute and Theos to mark ‘The War on Wonga: Five Years on’ A video of this, and other, talks given on the evening is available at www.capitalmass.org.uk 

We start by listening

Clean for Good is a professional contract cleaning company. We clean offices, cafes, community centres and churches across London.

But we’re an unusual cleaning company.  We’re unusual because Clean for Good was founded in a church – a Parish in the City of London.

This church noticed that as tens of thousands of well-paid City workers came to work every morning, thousands of badly paid workers were going home. Two different worlds passed each other on the pavement each morning.

The church listened to the stories from these workers; stories of low pay, unpredictable income and, often, poor working conditions.  And they asked the question – what does Good News look like for low paid workers?

Their answer was to set up an ethical cleaning company which would provide the jobs, the living wage and the respect that the cleaners wanted.

So Clean for Good was set up to be Good News for cleaners in London.

Why does it matter?

It matters because 700,000 people in London, today, work for a living and yet still live in poverty – because they earn less than the Living Wage. (Figures from the Trust for London)

An Independent Foundation has worked out how much you need to earn to be able to live in London – and its £10.20 per hour, the current London Living Wage.  It’s called a Living Wage, because it’s a wage you can live on. And it is 30% higher than the Government’s Min Wage.

These 700,000 people and their families are trying to live on the Minimum Wage and it isn’t working, because you can’t live on the Minimum Wage in London – it’s just not high enough. Our cleaners already know that.  An increasing body of research is confirming it too – most recently, a report from the JRF.

The London Living Wage

The London Living Wage is an important part of why Clean for Good is different.

Every day we make two promises:

  • We promise our customers that we will deliver a good professional cleaning service to them
  • And we also promise our cleaners that we will treat them fairly and with respect

Our promise to cleaners means 3 things:

  • It means that we’re a fully accredited Living Wage Employer – paying the London Living Wage to all of our staff, all of the time. Very few cleaning companies in London have made this commitment.
  • Secondly, our promise to cleaners means that we also directly employ them – no zero hours contracts, no self-employment – our cleaners get a stable income and decent employment benefits – paid leave, paid sick leave and a pension
  • And thirdly, we train and manage our cleaners and invest in them

This makes us pretty unusual.

There are good business reasons to pay a living wage to your employees and the Living Wage Foundation has published evidence on this. But the most compelling reason is a moral one; if we believe that every human being is made in the image of God – that people have more than just an ‘economic value’ – then we cannot accept wage levels that leave people living in poverty.

And we are all involved in this whether we like it or not. Every day, every week, someone empties our bins. They serve us. If it’s my bin, its my responsibility.

Who empties your bins at your workplace? What is their name? What do they get paid? 

The London Living Wage is Good News for all low pay workers and the wonderful thing about it is that we don’t need to wait for any new legislation or regulation – any employer can simply decide to pay it today.

The widespread adoption of the Living Wage across London would be the biggest attack on poverty since the foundation of the Welfare State. It would lift 700,000 people, and their families, out of poverty.

I would encourage every employer to pay it – whether business, charity or public sector. No amount of philanthropy makes up for the lack of it.  It’s not a question of charity, it’s a matter of justice; a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

As someone who runs a business in one of the most competitive and lowest paid sectors in London, I feel qualified to make this call. Our commitment to the Living Wage makes us one of the most expensive cleaning companies in London, but over the last year or so we have secured customers across London and now have a turnover of £1/3 million.  If we can do it, so can you.

And if you need an ethical cleaning company – you’ll find us at www.cleanforgood.co.uk

 

Thy Kingdom Come!

The Centre for Theology & Community l

Centre Director Angus Ritchie was one of the speakers  at last night’s “Thy Kingdom Come” celebration in St Paul’s Cathedral. Here is his sermon on “Seeking Justice”.

Words from Revelation Chapter 21: “Jesus said to me, ‘It is done!’”

The Book of Revelation is written to a community facing persecution – persecution by an Empire whose power seems overwhelming. The message of Revelation is that, despite all external appearances, despite all the logic of the world, the victory is already being won – in fact has already been won, decisively, at Calvary, and on Easter Day.

From anger to action

The Centre for Theology & Community l

CTC’s Co-ordinating Fellow, the Revd Dr Simon Cuff, gave a talk to clergy in south London on the anger – and action – of Jesus. The full talk is online here, and a condensed form is given in this blog.

Whatever God’s anger is, it is identical with his love. God’s anger is God’s love.

Listening, story-telling and Lent

The Centre for Theology & Community l

Fr Simon Cuff is Co-ordinating Fellow of CTC and a Tutor in Theology at St Mellitus College. At Evensong last Sunday he preached at SS Peter and Paul Church, Chingford – one of the churches in our Congregational Development Learning Community. The readings were 2 Kings 2.1-12; Psalm 50.1-6; 2 Corinthians 4.3-6; Mark 9.2-9

For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, words from our second reading, the second letter to the Corinthians, the 4th chapter, the 6th verse.

Like the capillary oozing of water…

The Centre for Theology & Community l

Dunstan Rodrigues co-ordinates CTC’s Buxton Leadership Programme, as well as organising in the Catholic Parish of Manor Park. Here he and this year’s Buxton interns reflect on their experience of the programme…

“I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. I am for those tiny, invisible, loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of pride”

Heart to heart

The Centre for Theology & Community l

Angus Ritchie (Director of CTC and Priest in Charge at St George-in-the-East) blogs on the role of storytelling in community organising – and the way his church is harnessing it this Advent.

There has been renewed interest over the last month or so in Heart to Heart Caitlin Burbridge’s excellent report for CTC on the way churches can harness the potential of storytelling to build relationships, share faith, and act for justice.

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