The First Living Wage City

This article appeared in the Evening Telegraph: 11/03/2019 [Online], Available:  [Accessed: 2019, Mar 13]

Pete & Sean

Councillor John Alexander, the leader of Dundee City Council, has had a difficult month following ongoing criticism and protests over local budget cuts. However, I was impressed to discover, last Wednesday, the role he and his administration played in enabling Dundee to make a stand as the UK’s first living wage city. Our elected politicians deserve credit when they get it right and, on this, I believe they have.

However, it has been a collective effort. Backed by Living Wage Scotland and Poverty Alliance, a cohort of 50 local employers including Dundee City Council, DC Thomson and Xplore Dundee have voluntarily committed to an action plan that ensures all their staff receive a real living wage of £9 per hour, above the legal requirement of £7.83, as well as encouraging other local employers to commit to do likewise.

The announcement took place in the vista at the top of the DC Thomson building, with a panoramic view of Dundee in the background. Addressing a packed room, Cllr Alexander said: “Living wage accreditation is not the only tool we have to overcome poverty, but it is one important mechanism.” He later added: “This is as much about social, as well as physical, regeneration and having pride and confidence in your city.”

As I left DC Thomson, I decided to stop for a few convivial pints of craft beer across the road at Brewdog, which is one of the 50 living wage employers included in the city-wide action plan. I hung out with my good friend, Peter Garrow (pictured on the left), who was on his shift as we talked about the living wage. Peter, 27, said: “I love working here, I feel really valued, trusted and paying a living wage means everything to me. It says a lot about the company and the values we stand for, which is really important to me.”

Peter, who is also the exceptional drummer for local band, Solar Sons, said that prior to joining Brewdog, he was unemployed and turned down an offer from Amazon due to concerns about their unethical practices – a stance which led to a benefit sanction for refusing viable employment. However, having now been with Brewdog for three years, he says: “There is always an incentive to bring your best self to work. I get to work as part of a small tight-knit team of my best mates and pull pints of good beer.”

I also spoke to duty manager, Sean Tyrell (pictured on the right), who recounted unpleasant experiences from his employment history. Sean, 26, said: “I appreciate a lot about this place; the living wage, a good bonus, career progression and my birthday guaranteed off. Here, they support your personal life as well as your working life and that means a lot.