26 February 2015
A shocking 5 million UK workers out of a 30.6 million strong workforce earn below the living wage, TUC research has revealed.
One in five workers are on less than £7.85 (£9.15 in London) – calculated as the minimum needed to sustain a decent but basic standard of living.
TUC analysis has revealed some particular blackspots – the constituency of Birmingham Northfield has the highest proportion of below living wage workers – 53% of men and 63% of women.
This gender disparity is echoed across the country – most low-paid and casual workers are women. While 17 percent of working men get less than the living wage, its even worse, at 27 percent, for women.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Extending the living wage is a vital step towards tackling the growing problem of in-work poverty across Britain.
“Working families have experienced the biggest squeeze on their living standards since Victorian times, and these living wage figures show that women are disproportionately affected.
“Pay has been squeezed at all levels below the boardroom, and the government’s mantra about ‘making work pay’ is completely out of touch with reality.
“The number of living wage employers is growing rapidly and unions are playing their part in encouraging more employers to sign up and pay it.
“But we need to see a far wider commitment to pay the living wage from government, employers and modern wages councils – to drive up productivity and set higher minimum rates in industries where employers can afford to pay their staff more.”
The Church of England came under criticism this week when it emerged that despite publicly endorsing it, it doesn’t pay some of its workers the living wage.
The position of The Institute of Employment Rights (IER) is that the best way of reducing income inequality and ensuring fair pay for all is through collective bargaining.
To find out more about collective bargaining, the IER’s Reconstruction After the Crisis: A Manifesto for Collective Bargaining traces the history of collective bargaining, looks to other countries for examples and comparison, and sets out the argument for the introduction of a statutory framework.