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Oct 05

Supporting shopworkers

Better pay logoShopworkers union Usdaw’s survey of over 10,000 workers highlights the growing stress of low pay, short and zero hours contracts and insecure work.

I’m backing the union’s Time for Better Pay campaign so that retail staff across Liverpool Wavertree get the pay and respect they deserve.

Usdaw’s Time for Better Pay campaign tackles the causes of in-work poverty by demanding an economy where work pays. The campaign wants to see:

  • £10 per hour minimum wage for all workers over 18;
  • Minimum contracts of 16 hours per week for all employees who want it;
  • The right to a contract based on an individual’s normal hours of work;
  • An end to the misuse of zero hour contracts.

I welcome the fact that Amazon has bowed to campaigners’ demands for decent pay by promising to raise its minimum wage by 28 per cent to £10.50 for workers in London and 18 per cent to £9.50 for those in the rest of the UK.

That is still below the £11.50 an hour US Amazon employees get as a minimum and reflects the company preparing for a severe tightening of the labour market because of Brexit.

As the Usdaw survey points out:

  • 92 per cent of the people taking in its survey have seen no improvement in their financial situation over the past five years – of these, 63 per cent say they are worse off;
  • 76 per cent of low-paid workers have had to rely on unsecured borrowing to pay everyday bills in the last 12 months;
  • 63 per cent say that financial worries were having an impact on their mental health.

As one of the parliamentary advisors to the charity Money and Mental Health, I know that poor pay can lead to rising debt and failing mental health.

As the Archbishop of Canterbury recently pointed out, poverty pay and workplace security is an issue of ‘justice and the common good’.

People who have secure employment, know the hours they are working and know they are being paid a decent rate, can plan their budgets and look to the future rather than face a daily struggle of not knowing if they will work enough hours or be paid enough to cover everyday costs.

Workers should be valued by their employer and that means being in secure jobs that pay a wage they can live on.

The Time for Better Pay campaign seeks to reverse the long-term decline in workers’ pay and conditions, leading to a fairer and more equitable society for all.