Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/795/18010
End poverty pay scandal
Real living wage now
The Con-Dems tell us we're in a 'recovery'. Well, it doesn't feel that way to most of us. Far from it.
While bankers get astronomical bonuses and pay, the PCS union has worked out that the real value of UK pay has fallen 7% since the start of 2008.
Since 2010 there has only been one month when average pay didn't fall - and that month was skewed because of bankers' bonuses!
Tory Chancellor George Osborne has floated a rise from the current rate of £6.31 an hour to £7 an hour.
But this does not even reach the 'living wage', an hourly rate set independently and updated annually according to the basic cost of living in the UK. It is set at £7.65 and £8.80 in London.
Today the minimum wage is at its lowest level in real terms since 2004. Millions of workers cannot make ends meet.
Working Tax Credits, essential for many workers to survive, bail out low-paying Scrooge employers. Socialists stand for a minimum wage that is enough to live on and for no exemptions to that.
Socialist Party member Karen Fletcher spoke to Jason (not his real name) about the reality of life on low pay.
Jason is married and has a six year old son. He works with mentally disabled adults and has been in his current job for five years.
He is contracted to work a minimum of 30 hours a week at £6.50 an hour. He has not had a pay rise in four years. He stays because he loves his job.
When asked what it would mean to him to earn £10 an hour, Jason's answer was simple and heart-breaking.
He told me it would "make a huge difference - we wouldn't have to keep borrowing money from family. We wouldn't worry about the gas and electric, we could get a big shop when I get paid."
At this point his wife wistfully pointed out that they could finally begin to save, to get out of their small flat and live in a house with a garden.
It's not exactly a soaring ambition is it, to be able to open the door and let your son play in the garden.
The Socialist Party says:
- Trade union struggle to increase the minimum wage to the 'living wage', as an immediate step towards £10 an hour
- All workers, including part-timers, temps, casual and migrant workers to have trade union rates of pay, employment protection, and sickness and holiday rights from day one of employment
- An immediate 50% increase in the state retirement pension, as a step towards a living pension
- Reject 'workfare'. For the right to decent benefits, education, training, or a job, without compulsion
- Scrap the anti-trade union laws! For fighting trade unions, democratically controlled by their members.
- Full-time union officials to be regularly elected and receive no more than a worker's wage. Support the National Shop Stewards Network
- A maximum 35-hour week with no loss of pay
In The Socialist 22 January 2014:
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