Oxford youth campaign for £15-an-hour minimum wage - photo Socialist Party
Oxford youth campaign for £15-an-hour minimum wage - photo Socialist Party

Reece Wilson, Youth Fight for Jobs

Prices keep rising. Over two million low-paid workers have been forced to use a food bank this year. A similar number regularly skip meals. A skim through any recent copy of the Socialist will provide reports from people who are struggling through the cost-of-living crisis, and of workers fighting back!

The problems have been going on for decades: real wages have been falling since the 1970s, while profits have been rising. That’s money going out of working-class people’s pockets and into the profits of the bosses.

The minimum wage has for a long time been enough to just scrape by on, perhaps needing to be topped up with benefits to keep heads above water – now it is not enough to survive on.

The Living Wage foundation has increased its voluntary ‘real Living Wage’ to £10.90 an hour, and £11.95 an hour in London. This will be welcome news for the 400,000 people whose employers sign up to the scheme, but it will not go far enough. And it won’t help the 4.8 million workers whose employers haven’t signed up, and who earn even less!

We can’t rely on goodwill gestures from profit-driven bosses. A decent wage needs to be fought for. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has announced its ‘Fight for £15 campaign’, which it says is a “path towards £15 an hour”. This is welcome, but we can’t afford to wait till the end of the path! The crisis is now. We need £15 an hour now.

The last few months of strikes have shown a new generation of workers their collective power. The trade union movement has taken steps forward by demanding a ‘real’ real living wage”. Civil service union PCS and others are demanding a minimum wage of £15 an hour. Now it’s got to be fought for.

Public sector unions have put forward motions to the TUC Congress, starting on 18 October, to coordinate strikes. Low-paid workers not yet organised in trade unions can be inspired to fight back too, like the Amazon warehouse workers, walking out to demand a pay rise. A weak and divided Tory government can be forced to concede reforms. But, as it stands, it faces no real political opposition from Labour. We need a new mass workers’ party that actually fights for what we need: a minimum of £15 an hour, now!