The Socialist 13 July 2006 |
Join the Socialist
ISR campaign against poverty pay
Low Pay,No Way!
YOUNG AND working this summer? Chances are it's a low paid 'McJob', a
job with no opportunities to get better pay, and no job security where
we can be hired and fired seemingly at will. Or so it seems.
International Socialist Resistance (ISR) is using this weekend to
highlight poor pay and launching a fightback campaign against it.
Tom Penman, Leicester ISR
The minimum wage for young workers under 18 is a paltry £3 an hour.
For many this will also be their maximum wage. We might work for
multinational corporations which make millions of pounds of profits each
year but we're still paid the same low wage.
Tesco's eight directors gave themselves £26 million last year. Was it
them who were working long shifts at the tills? Restacking shelves or
delivering the goods that were to be sold? Of course not. The people who
actually made sure that Tesco's could function and who actually did the
work to create the £2 billion profits were workers on wages that were
minuscule in comparison.
Often the jobs we get will come from job agencies. They hire us out
for £8 or £10 an hour to another company and in return we usually just
get the £3 an hour minimum wage. The job agency pockets the rest of the
money. They're doubling our exploitation.
The national minimum wage is different depending on how old you are.
Why does a 16-year-old get paid £3 an hour for exactly the same work
that an 18 years old gets paid £4.25 an hour for? It's not as though
things are cheaper for us the younger we are.
International Socialist Resistance campaigns for equal pay for equal
work. There should be no differences in the minimum wage because of your
age. But even if there was an equal minimum wage at £5.05 it wouldn't be
enough to live on.
According to the government's own figures we need a £8 an hour
minimum to have a decent standard of living. We need to campaign for a
The trade unions are calling for a minimum wage of £6.50 and ISR
supports this but it needs to be a step in the fight for a living wage
not the final outcome.
If we were to win a living wage for all it would be a massive
improvement compared to what we have at the moment.
But in the past workers, (young and old) have fought for and won the
NHS, free education and decent pensions, yet all these things are now
being attacked and in the future we could expect the same attacks
against any decent pay offers we win now.
To permanently win a living wage, job security, free education and so
on we need to get rid of the profit system of capitalism and replace it
Naming and shaming Scrooge bosses
Bullies, tyrants, Scro-oges and much more passionate and unrepeatable
phrases were scrawled across our "Name and shame your boss" board to
express the hatred felt by workers of all ages for their bosses. In
fact, it got more attention than the main stage...
...Well not quite but it did seem that no one could resist this
opportunity at the RISE anti-racist festival this weekend. By 6pm, when
we packed up, there wasn't a square inch blank, so many people had outed
their bullying, scrooge-like bosses. Three people paid up to join ISR on
the spot - all very enthusiastic about coming along to the London
weekend of action on low pay and rights at work on 15-16 July.
To begin with, we were unsure whether there would be much interest
but there was hardly a minute throughout the day when there weren't
people looking at our board and writing on it. And the majority took
leaflets, bought the Rights at Work pack and discussed with us.
Despite sunburn and fatigue, we are enthusiastic about taking the
"Name and shame" boards on to the streets over the summer. The response
showed that low pay and rights and conditions at work are issues young
people are prepared to campaign and fight on. Not only did we meet young
workers who were trying to work out what they could do but we met young
socialists who were looking for a group that was combining the need to
defend our future with the need to fight for socialism!