CALLS to pay council workers a “living wage” have been rejected.

Councillor Tariq Sadiq tabled a motion at yesterday’s (Tuesday) full meeting of Cambridgeshire County Council to ask the authority to pay all its full-time, temporary and contracted workers at least £7.45 per hour.

The current minimum wage in the UK is £6.19 but the Living Wage Foundation says it is not enough for a basic but acceptable standard of living and forces people to work longer hours or take second jobs in order to pay their way.

“All I am saying is let us take a first step, send a signal and offer some hope,” Cllr Sadiq said. “It is about preventing in-work poverty.

“Many businesses have extolled the virtues of paying the living wage as they see lower absenteeism, greater retention, reduced recruitment costs, higher motivation and better productivity.

“Let us move one step closer to a fairer deal for all our workers.”

He urged the council, which said in February this year that it had 853 out of 8,000 workers who were paid less than what was then the living wage rate of £7.20 per hour, to do a feasibility study into the cost of scheme to see if it would be viable.

However, a spokesman for CCC said it was not something they would be implementing.

Asked whether Huntingdonshire District Council would consider the scheme, leader Jason Ablewhite said: “I think it is appropriate to ensure our staff are paid in the appropriate way without outside pressures on the council.

“There is always a public perception that people in the public sector are paid more when the majority of staff are at the bottom end of the pay scale.”

However he said it was up to individual companies to be satisfied they were paying their workers enough.

“I don’t think we’ll go down that route,” he said of the living wage campaign.