Unions must fight for full pay
Michael Morgan, Coventry Socialist Party
Despite the Tory government extending coronavirus restrictions until 19 July, rather than bringing them to an end on 21 June, the furlough scheme will continue to be downgraded and gradually dismantled as planned. This means that from the 1 July the employer will be expected to contribute 10% of workers’ wages, and the government will only provide 70%.
Not only is this a slap in the face to workers who are already on 80% of their often-low wages and still expected to pay 100% of their rent, but it will likely lead to job losses. There were 1.2 million more claiming out-of-work benefits in April of this year compared to March 2020. More than that, in the last year alone, 289,000 under-25s were taken off payrolls.
Industries such as hospitality, which a lot of young people work in, will be especially hard hit by the changes. Extended restrictions mean some businesses will remain shut, and will be unwilling, or unable, to pay 10% of wages to retain staff.
The BBC has reported that “record numbers of young people are also choosing to stay in education and are not looking for work” – but it has ignored the fact that in many cases young people’s choice is between minimum wage, zero-hour contracts and poor working conditions, or further study. They do not have the opportunities to find well paid and stable employment.
Trade unions must lead the fight for better-paid, more stable jobs for all, a real living wage of £12 an hour as a step towards £15, and full pay for those on furlough and those asked to self-isolate.