Last night I was reminded of the controversy over the Church of England and the Living Wage.

I went to the AGM of my local Church.  One of the matters reported was the remuneration of people working in a community centre run by the Church.  I learnt :

  • It employs a few full-time staff and a lot of volunteers.
  • Between these two groups there are some who work there part-time on the minimum wage.  Some of these also work as volunteers on other days.
  • I believe this is a situation you could find in many charities and similar bodies.
  • If everyone there was paid a Living Wage, it would be uneconomic to provide the community with most of the services it does.
  • The people on the Minimum Wage would like to volunteer but need some remuneration to supplement their pensions, or in some cases income from other employment.  They do not look at this activity as something they do to earn a living but as their way of giving something to the community.  They do not feel exploited.

If it is wrong to employ such people on less than the living wage, it follows that it must be wrong to use them as volunteers.  Should volunteering be banned?

This seems to me to be totally different from employers carrying out purely commercial activities and paying their workers less than a Living Wage.

Those who shouted “hypocrite” at the Archbishop of Canterbury when he condemned unscrupulous employers were shooting at the wrong target.