Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Just Pay Up

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Just Pay Up

Article excerpt

Byline: SEAN SEDDON Sunderland Reporter sean.seddon@trinitymirror.com @seddonnews

THE Liberal Democrats and the Green Party have distanced themselves from Parseq, a company which employs hundreds in the North East.

The customer services provider, which runs a major call centre on Doxford Park, has come under fire for pay and conditions at the site.

GMB, a national trade union, is putting pressure on firms and groups which promote a real living wage to cut ties with Parseq, which pays its new starters just above the national minimum wage. The 'real living wage',' defined as PS8.45 an hour outside of London, differs from the 'national living wage.'.

Introduced in April 2016, the national living wage, PS7.50 an hour, is in effect the new minimum wage level for over-25s but is below what experts say is a true living wage.

Chris Lines, a regional organiser for GMB, accused companies of "hypocrisy" for outsourcing services to a company which does not uphold the same pay standards as they do for their own workers.

Mr Lines also said that members of his union who work at the Sunderland centre have complained that it is difficult to work their way up and about the lack of a pay scheme.

Parseq reject these claims and say they will phase in the real living wage - although they were unable to give a timescale for this plan.

The Liberal Democrats and the Green Party have all dealt with Parseq in one way or another in recent years and all three have moved to disassociate themselves from the company following GMB's campaign. The Liberal Democrats confirmed they had commissioned Parseq to carry out work for them in the past but that they no longer work together.

A spokesperson said: "Parseq has completed contracts for the Liberal Democrats in 2015 and 2016. No contracts are currently under way".

In the same year, leader Tim Farron, speaking to The Independent, called the government's living wage policy a "con job". …

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