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London's fire station cleaners deserve a Living Wage

PUBLISHED: 10:16 22 June 2007 | UPDATED: 14:34 07 September 2010

THINGS are in a sorry state if it really is true that paying fire station cleaners the Living Wage could result in the closure of four fire stations, as Camden and Barnet Assembly member Brian Coleman seems to suggest. It s not as if the London wage is e

THINGS are in a sorry state if it really is true that paying fire station cleaners the Living Wage could result in the closure of four fire stations, as Camden and Barnet Assembly member Brian Coleman seems to suggest.

It's not as if the London wage is exorbitant. At a penny or two over £7 an hour, it means that a cleaner would have to work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, just to match an MP's salary - or a mere 150 hours a week to match that of an Assembly member - leaving them a couple of hours or so a day to recover. And that's without including the generous expenses and other forms of assistance the politicians enjoy.

We don't expect cleaners to be paid as much as elected politicians, of course. But who, other than Mr Coleman and his ilk, would deny them the London Living Wage for helping to keep our fire stations functional? And if Mr Coleman is right in calculating that the simple act of paying cleaners the correct wage could have such a catastrophic effect on the fire service's finances, then there's something intrinsically wrong with the present funding arrangements.

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