TRANSPORT operator Xplore Dundee is one of the city’s largest living wage employers.

The company’s decision to join the growing number of organisations signing up for Scottish Living Wage Accreditation has been welcomed by union bosses who want other companies to follow suit.

“It’s great news for the staff in Dundee directly affected and shows Xplore Dundee and National Express’ commitment to be a good employer to all its staff,” said Unite’s regional officer Dougie Maguire. “I would like to see more companies in Dundee follow their lead and pay the real living wage.”

Elsie Turbyne, managing director of Xplore Dundee, added: “All of our staff do a great job ensuring Dundee keeps moving and that thousands of people get to work, school and college each day. It is important that we recognise their hard work appropriately. Becoming a Living Wage Foundation employer clearly signifies our determination to be a good employer to all our staff.”

Xplore Dundee joined up after parent company National Express Group pledged to become an accredited living wage employer and pay all UK employees the real living wage. Not only that, the transport operator also committed to ensure the same for all agency and contracted staff. The pledge meant it was the first private transport group to commit to paying its employees the higher, voluntary rate of pay.

The transport operator started the roll-out of the real living wage with its largest business, the UK bus division. Alongside Xplore Dundee, which operates local bus services across the Dundee region, National Express also operates the majority of bus services across the West Midlands and Coventry, and the Midland Metro tram service between Birmingham and Wolverhampton. Xplore Dundee joined National Express Group 20 years ago. The company, which was then known as Tayside Buses, was sold to National Express and renamed Travel Dundee. Since then it has undergone a number of transformations, becoming National Express Dundee just over ten years later, and finally rebranding as Xplore Dundee in September 2015.

In January 2016 Xplore Dundee became an accredited Living Wage Foundation employer. As a result of the bus operator’s commitment, around 20 members of staff aged 18 and over received an immediate pay increase to the higher, voluntary living wage rate, of £8.45, over £1 more than the National Living Wage of £7.20 which only became law for over 25s in April last year. The move also meant hundreds of workers in the transport group’s West Midlands and Coventry bus divisions also saw their pay increase in January 2016, with its UK Coach division to follow by the end of this year.

Staff in Dundee work closely with bus and coach colleagues in the West Midlands, sharing expertise and best practice.

“The team strives to live up to National Express Group’s core values, which includes a People value - recognising that its workforce is its greatest asset,” said Turbyne. “We are determined to be a good employer to all staff and recognise their hard work appropriately, and as such the decision to become an accredited living wage employer was not a difficult one.”

Since it was launched in April 2014, more than 600 organisations in Scotland have signed up to become accredited as living wage employers, paying at least £8.45 per hour.