Unions slam government in wake of rise of jobs paying less than the Living Wage

pennies cashUnite has called for employers to be forced to pay a £10-per-hour Living Wage to staff

Speaking after official figures showing six million people earning less than the Living Wage, the union’s assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “The Living Wage, which is voluntary, needs to be made compulsory and should be £10 an hour – and Britain’s companies, with strong cash reserves, can well afford to pay it.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Everybody deserves a fair day’s pay for an honest day’s work. But with more and more jobs paying less than the Living Wage, it is clear that millions of workers are not getting their fair share from the economic recovery.

“It’s particularly shocking that so many more women than men are denied the Living Wage. We need to value women’s work more. And we need employers in sectors with large female workforces, such as care services, retail and hospitality, to give their staff fairer pay.

“The government’s Trade Union Bill will make it even harder for people to get fair wages. It will shift the balance of power in the workplace towards employers, making it harder to bring poverty-pay bosses to the negotiating table. If the government really wanted to deliver fairer pay it would be working with trade unions not against them.”

The axe to working tax credits will inflict further financial hardship to those working in the six million jobs in the UK paying less than the Living Wage, Unite says.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that the proportion of jobs paying less than the Living Wage outside London rose from 21 per cent to 23 per cent between April 2012 and April 2014. The figure for the capital rose by six per cent to 19 per cent – well below the rest of the UK.

Steve Turner added: “This is a double whammy, not only are bosses failing to pay the Living Wage, but these workers are the very people who will be hit by the savage cuts to the working tax credits.

“Three million low-waged families could lose £1,000-a-year or, in some cases, up to £1,700 when the cuts to the tax credits come into force next April.

“The dismal failure of employers to pay the Living Wage disproportionately hits those in low-paid, insecure work and also women.

“Ministers are allowing the drawbridge to be drawn up against the low-paid getting a proper wage and condemning millions to a life of grinding poverty, where putting food on the table is a daily struggle.

“The current rate for the Living Wage is £7.85 an hour outside London and £9.15 in the capital, so you can see the phoney national living wage of £7.20, coming into force for the over 25-year-olds next April, is already inadequate in providing a decent income.”




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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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