Despite the rain, Oxford Street and Regent Street were crowded as usual and the event attracted considerable attention, although the event didn't seem particularly aimed at the public who were there, with nothing to tell them what it was about. Of course it was being filmed, and doubtless the video will reach many more people than the event itself.
After the crossing, the protesters split into a number of smaller groups to continue the campaign inside the larger stores on Oxford Street. They intend to give letters to all the general managers of shops on the street inviting them to meet with London Citizens to discuss the Living Wage.
It was a rather more low-key event than I had been led to expect, but this is just the start of the campaign in this employment sector. The London Living Wage campaign is now the number 1 priority for London Citizens, and since its start has resulted in around £25 million extra wages for some of the lowest paid workers in London, particularly for cleaners.
The Living Wage campaign which began in 2001 has had the support of both London mayors, Ken Livingstone and his successor Boris Johnson, and the London Living Wage, a London weighted minimum wage taking into account the higher living costs of London is calculated by the Greater London Authority (GLA) London Living wage Unit and in 2009 was £7.60 per hour, £1.87 above the National Minimum Wage. As well as wages, Living Wage employers also provide fair employment conditions including holiday and sick pay and allowing employees to belong to a trade union.
Already a number of large employers in London have become Living Wage Employers, including well-known names such as Barclays, but there are still many people working in London on or even below the national minimum wage and without proper employment. And although the retail sector is one of the most profitable areas of business in London, many of its employees struggle on less than the London Living Wage.
Further pictures are on Demotix:
and I will post a larger selection shortly on My London Diary