Fight for £10 an hour now!

We need real jobs with a living wage, photo Paul Mattsson

We need real jobs with a living wage, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

James Ivens

Don’t be young. Not if you want a house or enough to live on. A new study out this month details the continuing decay of youth wages and home ownership.

Research by the Resolution Foundation has found the proportion of young people on low pay has nearly quadrupled since 1975. Numbers aged 21 to 30 earning less than £7.71 an hour – two thirds of the national median – have soared.

Only 8% four decades ago, but 29% today. The think-tank describes a “structural shift” towards permanent poverty pay for the young.

At the same time, the number of under-30s buying a house fell to 3% – one of its lowest ever levels. For most young people the very idea is charmingly quaint. Something-for-nothing slumlords demand nearly half our income – sometimes more – for creaking cots in sheds and cupboards.

The establishment parties and defenders of capitalism have no solutions to these hateful conditions.

The Tories’ answer is ‘Help to Buy’: state backed mortgages to get young people onto the property ladder. But this has simply helped to fuel the housing price bubble – putting homes beyond the reach of most people.

New Labour? They’ll consider limiting how much your landlord can hike your rent in one go. Why not licence them and force them to charge fair rents?

Fundamentally, we need to build more council housing. Cheap, secure, publicly owned accommodation is the only antidote to market misery.

As for pay – the employment figures are going up, aren’t they? Well, yes. But only because traditional full time posts have been divvied up into zero-hour microjobs and ‘self-employment’.

A £10 an hour minimum wage could start to solve low pay. Recent strikes have proved that even precarious workers can fight and win improved offers through trade unions.

And in Seattle, a movement of workers and socialists has more than doubled the minimum wage. The $15 an hour rate will transfer $3 billion of wealth from the richest to the lowest paid.

When we organise, we can win.