04/12/2014 - Pay falls for sixth consecutive year

divided-we-begBritish workers are facing a sixth year of falling pay, figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have shown. This year wages have risen by 0.1% – the smallest increase since records began 17 years ago. When inflation is taken into account, pay is down 1.6% on 2013. 

Inflation has exceeded wage growth every year since 2008 – in real terms, pay is back to the same levels as in the early 2000s.

Britain has a low-paid, insecure employment culture. 0nly one in forty new jobs is full-time and under-employment has doubled to 1.3 million.

Commenting on the ONS data released on 25 November showing that under-employment is still far above pre-recession levels, Frances O’Grady of the TUC said: 

“Under-employment is still much higher than it was before the recession, which is a clear sign that the UK isn’t creating enough of the right kind of jobs.”

“There is a big shortfall in the supply of full-time employee jobs, and that’s making it harder for families to earn enough for a decent standard of living”.

Last week Ed Miliband pledged to tackle Britain’s “zero-zero economy”. “People [are] asking why they are on zero-hours contracts while those at the top get away with zero tax”, he said. “This zero-zero economy is a symptom of a deeply unequal, deeply unfair, deeply unjust country; a country I am determined to change.”

Miliband used Sports Direct, infamous for their use of zero-hours contracts, as an example, “Sports Direct has thousands of its employers on zero-hours contracts, the vast majority of its workforce. Sports Direct has predictable turnover, it is a modern company with stores on many high streets and, judging by its success, where many people shop.

“But for too many of its employees, Sports Direct is a bad place to work. This is not about exceptional use of zero-hours contracts for short-term or seasonal work which some employers and workers may find convenient. This is the way Sports Direct employs the vast majority of its workforce. These Victorian practices have no place in the 21st century. And under a Labour government, the exploitation of zero-hours contracts will be banned.”

Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity, commented:

"Solidarity welcomes these remarks. Labour have yet to address the root cause, however. Wages need to rise and incomes need to be proportionate . The rise in inequality, the gap between rich and poor, is a result of the collapse of Trade Union power. Many workers fall outside of collective bargaining between trade unions and employers. Until we can widen the coverage of collective bargaining we are just applying plasters to a large wound."