Food giant Nestlé’s ‘living wage’ pledge for staff in region

A CONFECTIONARY giant with major factories in York and Halifax has become the first major manufacturer in the country to be recognised for paying all its employees the ‘living wage’.

Nestlé UK, which has 8,000 workers across the UK and 2,250 at its main bases in Yorkshire, is the latest firm to be given accreditation as a Living Wage employer.

The living wage, said to be the minimum needed to “enjoy a basic, but socially acceptable standard of living”, is currently £8.80 an hour in London and £7.65 an hour outside the capital, higher than the legal minimum wage of £6.31 an hour.

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Nestlé has also pledged to “work closely with contractors and agencies” to ensure all workers will be paid the UK Living Wage by December 2017.

It comes a week after a commission chaired by Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, called on the Government to champion the gradual introduction of a living wage higher than the national minimum wage in sectors that could afford it.

The commission said millions of people in poverty live in UK households where at least one person works, a situation described as a “national scandal”.

Dr Sentamu said: “I’d like to commend Nestlé for its voluntary commitment to take up the living wage for its employees. This is a very encouraging step and it is my hope that other organisations will follow their lead.

“The emerging recovery means that thousands more businesses are now able to pay a Living Wage to all of their staff – those that can afford to do this should be encouraged to do it without delay.”

Nestlé’s bases in York and Halifax, the homes of products such as KitKat and Quality Street, were taken over by the firm when it acquired Rowntree’s of York in 1988.

Rowntree’s was founded in 1725 by Mary Tuke, a young Quaker, whose family built a model village just a mile north of their factory to give local people alternative accommodation to inner-city slum dwellings. Joseph Rowntree also set up charitable trusts, including one to investigate the causes of poverty.

York has played a major role in the campaign for all employees to be paid a living wage, with a number of firms already signed up to the scheme and a national report last week praising the city’s commitment.

So far 750 firms are accredited by the Living Wage Foundation, a number growing at a rate of 40 a month. Director Rhys Moore said the accreditation of Nestlé was “a significant milestone”.