Valley’s Biggest Business Backs Living Wage

Words by Catherine Smyth Media

Photograph by Liz Henson Photography

ROSSENDALE’s largest employer has welcomed the introduction of the Living Wage.

J and J Ormerod , JJO, employs nearly 400 people across its bases in Rawtenstall, Stacksteads and Waterfoot and manufactures kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms.

Nationally, Rossendale has been identified as having the second largest percentage of people who will benefit from the introduction of the Living Wage – 33 per cent and at JJO it impacts on a quarter of employees.

Joint Managing Director Stephen Greenhalgh said: “It affects 99 employees and 29 of those are only getting an increase of 6p a week extra.

“The average increase in weekly wage is £11.99 and, as a company, the total cost is £55,000 a year, which represents half a per cent of our wage bill.

“The majority of those who will see an increase are the new starters who are working on the skills’ matrix.”

The company is currently busier than ever having acquired Victoria Works in Coughfold last year.

He said: “I think it seems crazy that the government is providing benefits for some people who are in work and I welcome the introduction of the Living Wage.

“I was quite surprised that so many people are affected in Rossendale, work is really supposed to replace benefits.

“The unemployment rate is low in Rossendale and we sometimes struggle to recruit.

“When employees start with us they often stay a very long time and we have just had two retirements and both employees had worked for JJO for more than 30 years.

“Even when we were in the recession there was only one year that we didn’t give a better than inflation pay rise and that was because one of our large customers had gone out of business.”

Last year the company introduced work-placed pensions where the JJO pays in three per cent along with contributions from the employee and government.

Stephen added: “It is right that employees should contribute towards their retirement; we did offer stakeholder pensions before, but there was not a great uptake.”

The introduction of the Living Wage means: 16-17-year-olds receive £3.87 an hour, 18-20 £5.30, 21-25 £6.70 and over 25 £7.20.

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