STEPHEN HEPBURN: A fair day's pay for a fair day's work

LOW pay is a British disease and one in three jobs in the Jarrow parliamentary constituency pay only the £7.20 an hour of the Government's so-called Living Wage.

Thursday, 8th December 2016, 12:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 12:36 pm
Chancellor Philip Hammond

Nobody could live decently on what remains an official minimum wage and for 1.5 million nationwide, and thousands on South Tyneside, is alas a maximum wage for people who yearn to earn more.

Put in 40 hours and you’d be on only £288 a week before tax and national insurance which is a breadline existence, emphasising why tax credits and soon Universal Credit – which the Tories are slashing – are so important to the working poor.

Experts calculate a genuine living wage in our area would be at least an hourly £8.45, an extra £1.25 or £50 more a week, so the Conservatives add insult to injury when they call the legal minimum what it obviously isn’t.

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And the Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond has a cheek to boast the minimum wage will go up to £7.50 next April when earlier this year it was forecast to rise to £7.64.

Multi-millionaire Hammond’s a typical Tory who fleeces you when he’s pretending to be generous. It’s why I never trust them.

The working poor now outnumber the jobless poor with the Office for National Statistics finding a third of people in the UK experienced poverty in recent years.

Six million across the country are paid less than the real living wage of £8.45 (or £9.45 in more expensive London) and struggle to make ends meet.

There are 1.7 million on zero-hours contracts not guaranteeing a week’s work with 5.4 million under-employed, wanting more hours than they get.

This misery is intolerable when the wealthy elite in our country have rarely had it so good.

While millions of workers are hard-up, boardroom salaries soared a whopping 50% since 2010.

The average pay of top directors increased by 47 per cent to £3.4 million between 2010 and 2015.

That’s 227 times more than a worker on the minimum wage is paid and the value of pay for a typical grafter in six years’ time will be worth less than in 2008 because of Tory economic incompetence and indifference.

Theresa May led this country up the garden path when the Tories put her into Downing Street without an election and she declared they’d be the part of the workers.

The plan to put workers on company boards was dropped before the ink was dry on her speech.

It’s why low paid workers need a Labour Government promising to introduce a genuine real Living Wage of at least £10 an hour to help workers and families.

Creating a fairer, better Britain is our goal and that includes decent employment rights, support for the self-employed and valuing small businesses – not paying lip service, as the Conservatives do.

It means too giving trade unions the ability to represent workers in companies that grow obscenely rich on the backs of ground-down staff.

Low pay is a political choice, not an economic certainty.

People putting in a fair day’s work aren’t earning a fair day’s wage. Labour will end that scandal. I promise.