The living wage

Ethical Reading’s first meetup was held on 31st October in the Library of the Great Expectations Hotel in Reading, Berkshire. Meetups are informal, open, relaxed events, which in due course will include (when we get round to it) virtual presence, to discuss a specific ethical issue. They take place from 6:30 to 8:30pm, with no formal host (though sandwiches are provided) and what we found at this first event was that discussion continued long after 8:30!

After introductions by Jim Bignal and Gurprit Singh, a briefing on the topic for the day, the living wage, was given by Amy Hulme of the Living Wage Foundation (

Amy talked about how the living wage movement started and shared some moving stories of how it has made a real difference to people who are struggling to pay their bills.

She pointed out that:

  • The living wage was, unlike the minimum wage, linked to the cost of a basket of goods and services to reflect reasonable standards of living, and was different in different parts of the country.
  • It was higher for most people than the minimum wage, which had a very big impact on people’s quality of life.
  • It was sometimes the case that though an employer paid the Living Wage, contractors such as cleaners or agency staff were paid on a much lower scale.

Dr Dan Dennis of the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education contributed an ethical perspective and opened up a wide ranging discussion. An interesting point raised was that comparing the high pay pay of some international companies CEOs to CEOs of family firms or those with CEOs working at the same hourly rate as staff was misleading!

The call to action was for for participants was to find out if the cleaners at their place of work are paid a living wage.

The second meetup was held on 28th November on mental health in the workplace —– more on that below.

Future meetings may be held at a range of venues to engage with different communities, so please watch the web site to sign up for these – they will be on the 4th Tuesday of every month from 27th February 2018.



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