A LABOUR councillor challenged his Conservative rivals to try and live on less than £9 an hour after a call to ensure all people working for the county council are paid a ‘living wage’ was rejected.

Councillor Peter McDonald made the call after the council’s Conservatives rubbished his plea to extend the ‘living wage’ of at least £9 an hour to all future employees and said they were condoning the exploitation of its workers.

He said: “There is not one of you that could live on £9 an hour. Let alone expecting people to live on less than £9 an hour.”

The council current pays the national living wage of £8.21 and more to all of its employees over 25. The Living Wage Foundation recommends paying a minimum of £9 an hour for everyone over 18.

Cllr Peter McDonald said: “It is time for our council to lead by example and join the other 5,000 employers who pay the Living Wage by ensuring that all those organisations that carry out work for this council earn the Living Wage.

Councillor Karen May, the council’s cabinet member for transformation and commissioning, said it was not up to the council to force organisations to pay the Living Wage to its employees and was “mindful” it would burden employers.

She said: “There is a national living wage introduced by then Chancellor George Osborne in 2015. This currently stands at £8.21 for over 25’s.

“We pay all of our staff the national living wage or above.

“Worcestershire County Council do not mandate supply organisations on matters that are for these organisations to manage. This includes staff terms and conditions of employment.

“The council does mandate supply organisations that must comply with the law of the country of residence.

“We are mindful that imposing additional constraints on our supply base would have significant economic and practical implications for their business and this council financially.”

Cllr McDonald accused the council’s Conservatives of condoning the exploitation of its workers.

He said: “Of course we can mandate the contractors. Of course we can put in any contract that they receive the living wage. Of course we can.

It’s no good saying we pay the living wage here when we allow work and workers that lead this council to be exploited by others.”