It’s Fair Pay Fortnight – we need a pay rise! Wages have stagnated since the 1970s, while productivity has risen corporate profits have sky-rocketed. The CEO to worker pay ratio is obscene. This has all got much worse since the financial crash in 2008: …

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It’s Fair Pay Fortnight – we need a pay rise!

Wages have stagnated since the 1970s, while productivity has risen corporate profits have sky-rocketed. The CEO to worker pay ratio is obscene. This has all got much worse since the financial crash in 2008: most workers are worse off now than they were then.

In the UK, we are told that the economy is recovering. And yet this “recovery” is based entirely on an unsustainable property boom in London. The economy is growing, but it’s only benefiting the rich. Accommodation in London – whether you’re buy it or rent it – is becoming increasingly unaffordable for working people.

Across the rest of the country, in work poverty is a real issue. Right wing politicians from all political parties attack the unemployed as shirkers, and praise work as a glorious, edifying route to prosperity: if only you worked hard, you too could be as rich as Richard Branson. But the truth is that most poor people in the UK do work – the jobs just don’t pay enough. And many of those who do work struggle to get enough hours, or the security to be able to make financial decisions.

The picture is the same across the world: in Europe, people are struggling to make ends meet. In South Africa, we have seen years of unrest because working people don’t earn enough to live on. We’ve seen the same pattern in Brazil, Turkey and even China. The low wage workers movements in the US have been fighting for a living wage, particularly in the retail and fast food industry. They are beginning to win, too.

Right now, a massive share of all the wealth that is created in the world remains in private hands, going to shareholders and investors, disappearing through tax havens into hedge funds and bubble investments – like London’s housing market.

The job of trade unions is make sure a bigger proportion of that money makes its way into workers’ pockets.

Paying workers fairly is good for the economy, too: workers spend their wages. The rich tend to horde money unproductively, or gamble with it, whereas working people spend their money, usually locally. A bit of disposable income in workers’ pockets is great for boosting local businesses – greengrocers, hairdressers, pubs and restaurants – which in turn creates more employment. It also means workers have money to spend on solidarity campaigns, to help workers in other countries.

So it’s really time we turned the heat up and demanded better pay: not just to help us make ends meet, but to help make the whole economy more sustainable and prosperous.

It’s Fair Pay Fortnight this week: what would you do if you were paid fairly?

Use the hashtag #FairPayFortnight and let the world know.

And if you’re in the UK, sign the petition to party leaders telling them to take action on pay.

fair pay

 

 


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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