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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 February 2020

6.5 million working poor: Fight to end low pay

Low pay, no way! photo Paul Mattsson

Low pay, no way! photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Nancy Taaffe, Waltham Forest Socialist Party

There are now 6.5 million workers in the UK who are part of the "working poor." There are now more people who are both working and in poverty than people who are officially unemployed. There are more employed people in rent arrears than there are people officially unemployed!

When the BBC screened a new adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol in December, the right-wing press and commentators slammed it.

Perhaps part of this was because the drama had a contemporary theme. It made you feel that Victorian poverty wasn't so very far away from Britain in 2020.

The Conservative Party mantra of "making work pay" is refuted in the lives of over six million people where work is no route out of poverty. Work, for many, has become the modern equivalent of the Victorian workhouse.

Throughout the nineties and noughties, many well-paid, secure jobs were wiped out, in manufacturing, public services and other sectors. In many sectors, such as retail and the caring professions, government subsidies were introduced to mask the scandal of low-paying employers.

Rather than the trade union leaders mobilising workers to fight against low pay, they never did. Well-paid jobs have become scarcer - and government subsidies have all but gone.

Cleaners on the London Overground strike against low pay on 5 April,  photo London Socialist Party

Cleaners on the London Overground strike against low pay on 5 April, photo London Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

To 'make work pay' we need to start by forcing bosses to pay decent wages that reflect the real cost of living. The Socialist Party demands a minimum wage of at least 12 an hour as an immediate step towards 15.

We need cheap and affordable rents through council housing and rent caps, and housing benefit that matches the real cost of housing.

We need our travel expenses to be affordable. We need childcare costs that don't prohibit us from being able to afford to work. We need to cut the working week without a loss of pay and share work out - it's illogical to have some toiling for 70 hours a week while others can't get anything but a part-time job. In short, we need socialist policies.

Just like today, in Dickens' day the bosses' profits boomed. They hoarded and speculated while those who toiled suffered.

Now, as then, we need a militant trade union fightback and a mass party to represent organised workers in the struggle against poverty, low pay and inequality.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 5 February 2020:


News

6.5 million working poor: Fight to end low pay

Labour leadership contest and public ownership

Coronavirus exposes capitalism's weaknesses in healthcare and economy

Record dissatisfaction with democracy: capitalism's dead end

Refuges turn away 64% of women - set no-cuts budgets now!

Grenfell watch: Unions challenge 'mockery of justice'

Them & Us


Rail

Nationalise the railways: For an integrated public transport system

Expensive, overcrowded and unreliable: Renationalise the railways!

Cancel the franchise, not our trains

Will the North get investment and transport infrastructure?


What we think

'Post-Brexit' era of crisis ahead


Workplace news

Huge victory for Bromley library workers after 241 days on indefinite strike!

14 more days of university strikes over pensions, pay and conditions

500 BBC journalists' jobs under threat

Newham council tax workers' pay victory

No to academisation of east London schools!

Ealing tax office workers strike against closure


NHS

Outrageous waiting times will put lives at risk

NHS: Save stroke beds in Coventry and Warwickshire


International

Syria: Assad regime consolidates power after brutal counterrevolution

Israel/Palestine: Trump 'peace plan' promises further conflict


Campaigns

Socialist Party calls anti-austerity protest on Budget Day

Sadiq Khan "out-Tories" himself to defend tech firms' tax bonanza

Socialist Sellers

Reading Labour council: Stop privatising our leisure services

The rich fund the Tories and Blairites, so help fund the working-class fightback

Support the working-class press in 2020

Defend and fight for warm, safe housing for Samira and everyone

Alternative Burns Night success


Readers' opinion

Liverpool council: "No more cuts" - Is Joe Anderson serious?

Socialist Inbox


 

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Related links:

Low pay:

triangleLow Pay, Long Hours. Bosses rip us off. Organise the fightback now!

triangleCleaners strike over low pay at Haringey secondary school

triangleEast London Socialist Party: Low pay and the winter strike wave

triangleLondon - 'autumn of discontent'

triangleMcDonald's - Striking to end low pay

Pay:

triangleLabour must resist 'Covid coalition'

triangleBus drivers halt sackings - now restore our pay

triangleKey workers should make bold demands

triangleWorking in Mike Ashley's empire: After lockdown we won't forget how we've been treated

Poverty:

triangleAusterity kills

triangleChesterfield Socialist Party: The politics of food poverty

triangleThem & Us

Workers:

triangleBuilding the Socialist Party

triangleNew laws: Unions must be on guard against attacks on workers' interests

Housing:

triangle'Worst crisis in housing since World War Two' - Barking Riverside inquiry into fire

Jobs:

triangleEssential workers deserve more

Minimum wage:

triangleAverage wages recover to pre-crisis levels - but we're still over a decade behind

Inequality:

triangleBrilliant Korean film exposes class inequality

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