Dundee Heritage Trust become accredited Living Wage employer in support of Living Wage City drive


23rd June 2021

Dundee Heritage Trust has become an accredited Living Wage employer, a commitment which supports the drive to make Dundee a Living Wage City. Their accreditation ensures everyone working for the organisation earns at least the real Living Wage, currently set at £9.50 per hour.

Dundee Heritage Trust (DHT) is an independent charity that runs two five-star visitor attractions in the city - Verdant Works and Discovery Point, with 2 collections of Recognised National Significance plus the internationally significant historic ship RRS Discovery. The costs of caring for and conserving such important heritage assets are significant. 

It is primarily funded through its own resources - admission fees, conference and events business, retail and cafe income - and therefore, was particularly affected by the pandemic which resulted in huge projected deficits. 

Against that backdrop of uncertainty, DHT board's decision to continue to honour their commitment to pay the real Living Wage to all employees made this demonstration of leadership all the more admirable.

Since the first lockdown in 2020, the team have embarked on herculean fundraising efforts to ensure that the real Living Wage was paid to all employees who were working as well as furloughed colleagues. The executive management team took a voluntary 20 % pay cut whilst the CEO restricted her own salary to real Living Wage for four months in order to make this possible.

Dundee Heritage Trust have ambitious plans to complete major ship conservation works to secure the long-term future of RRS Discovery and to develop four new tourist attractions at Discovery Point whilst bringing the building up to improved environmental standards. This is all part of a strategy to improve its financial sustainability which it hopes will allow it to both meet its ongoing conservation responsibilities and to continue to pay its staff at least Real Living Wage longer term. 

DHT's HR advisor, Denise Clark who led on the accreditation process said:

"Against all the challenges of the past year we are delighted to be awarded Living Wage status and proud to be doing our bit towards Dundee's ambitions to become the UK's first Living Wage city. "  

In 2019, Dundee became the first UK place to achieve recognition for their ambitious plan to become a Living Wage City, a place-based approach to driving uptake of the real Living Wage by local businesses.

DHT joins over 80 accredited Living Wage employers in Dundee City who are ensuring workers can earn a wage that reflects the cost of living. As the hospitality and tourism sector begins to reopen, Living Wage accreditation can help businesses recover by attracting and retaining staff and customers.

Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance said:

“The Living Wage accreditation of Dundee Heritage Trust is a signal of their commitment to raise awareness of the importance of the real Living Wage and helps set the standard for businesses in Dundee.

Too many workers in Dundee and across Scotland are locked into poverty. Paying the real Living Wage loosens the grip of in-work poverty and helps ensure workers can meets their everyday needs.”

Christine McCaig, Living Wage Projects Coordinator at Living Wage Scotland said:

“Congratulations to Dundee Heritage Trust on becoming Living Wage accredited. They join a growing movement of over 80 Living Wage employers in Dundee, and over 1900 across Scotland that recognise the importance of valuing staff with a wage that reflects living costs, as part of a financially sustainable business model.”

Dundee Living Wage Action Group Member, Equalities and Fairness Spokesperson, Councillor Lynne Short said:

“It’s fantastic to welcome Dundee Heritage Trust into the Living Wage family here in Dundee.

“Dundee Heritage Trust join a number of anchor organisations including the council, Thornton’s and Dundee and Angus College.

“We already know the important impact that paying the real Living Wage has on workers and businesses, particularly in the hospitality and tourism sector.

“In Dundee we are immensely proud to be leading the way and driving efforts to become the first Living Wage City in the UK.

“This place-based approach is a great way to engage with communities and business in the city, I look forward to welcoming more businesses as Dundee recovers from the pandemic.”

Dundee City Council

Dundee draws skilled workers from a 60-minute catchment population of 640,000 and has a local population of over 140,000. The availability of a large pool of highly skilled labour is a key feature in the Dundee economy. Flexibility in the labour force is currently more prevalent in Dundee than in Scotland as a whole. All forms of labour market flexibility - part-time, temporary employment, self-employment and shift work - are widely operational within the city. Labour force stability in the city is excellent, enabling companies to plan with confidence. Labour turnover levels are less than 5% and absenteeism averages 2%.

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