Comment: Has the cycle industry a poor record on the Living Wage? - BikeBiz

Comment: Has the cycle industry a poor record on the Living Wage?

The cycle industry isn't known for its huge wage packets - but just how bad are things?
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It was 2009 when BikeBiz last took a proper look at the state of salaries in the bike business. Looking back to the magazine article, the then sub-editor’s pull quote of choice at the time read “57 per cent stated their salary does not cover living expenses.” And little wonder when 48.4 per cent of the 324 respondents placed their earnings under £20,000 a year. 21.1 per cent sat under just £15,000 annually.

The key change to any staff benefits since then will of course be the addition of mandatory pensions. Back in ’09 just 21.6 per cent of the pool enjoyed a contribution.

In response to a jaw dropping Independent headline last month, in which it was claimed that not one High Street retailer pays the Living Wage at present, I asked around the industry. First port of call – the industry’s chain stores. Turns out it’s true, not one of the big chains is paying the Living Wage and judging by email responses, they’re not keen on discussing the topic either. The silence really was deafening.

One positive discussion came from the Edinburgh Bicycle co-op, which, given the nature of the business, often does manage to give staff a bonus that takes wages above living levels – this does of course ebb and flow with business performance, but in recent times has tipped pay over the non-London minimum, we were told. Further digging on the subject did turn up positive results for both Brompton and most recently, IslaBikes. 

There will surely be others who haven’t declared themselves a provider too. It is, however, staggering how low some industry salaries remain. The coin has two sides, sadly. Many businesses will struggle to pay a decent wage without a history of consistent growth. 

Consider this, however; the main reason cited for a potential change of job in the near future in our survey was overwhelmingly financial strain. Skills are worth investing in, as are the people who possess them. The old adage ‘worth their weight in gold’ is as relevant now as ever. One proven, skilled and reliable staffer is worth many times that of ten idle workers. 

Is there something that could be done to improve life for one of your hard working staff, financial or otherwise? Such a gesture will often work wonders for morale and be rewarded with loyalty.

We are particularly interested to hear your stories on this topic with a view to a follow up on industry wages in the near future. If you have any comment, please email to msutton@nbmedia.com.

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