More than a million low-paid workers have regularly skipped meals during this pandemic, while thousands more miss heating and bills. Solidarity says that there's only one solution to poverty pay – a real living wage won by rebuilding union power.
The extent and effects of low pay in Britain are bleak. A Living Wage Foundation report - ‘Life on Low Pay in the Pandemic’ showed the effects of low pay added to the effects of COVID-19 on the lowest paid in our country.
The Foundation surveyed over 2,000 employees who work full time but earn less than the Real Living Wage. More than two thirds of the people surveyed had seen decreases in their income; already earning less than the amount required to get by, the pandemic has put even more pressure on their financial security, health, happiness, and social relationships. The impact for many of those surveyed has been dire. 30 percent had fallen behind on bills; 20 percent had fallen behind on their rent or mortgage; and close to 15 percent has been forced to take out a pay-day loan.
Over 1 in 4 — about a million people — had regularly skipped meals for financial reasons, whilst 1 in 5 had been unable to heat their homes. Close to 50 percent said their level of pay affected their levels of anxiety and negatively affected their quality of life, whilst a further 31 percent said the pay they received negatively affected their relationship with their children.
These trends are widespread: 5.5 million jobs in the UK pay less than the Real Living Wage; about 20 percent of all jobs in the labour market.
So what's the answer. Solidarity says that there is only one real answer: we must rebuild union power and collective bargaining. Those who rely on the government fixing things or the genorousity of businesses are delusional. Only strong unions will lift people out of poverty pay.