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Minimum wage announcement puts the 'con' into Conservative says Usdaw

Date: 30 September 2019 Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis has warned minimum wage workers not to fooled by today’s announcements coming out of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. Usdaw continues to call for £10 per hour now for all workers, with an end to youth rates and action on insecure employment.
The Chancellor today claimed his proposal to be ‘ambitious’ as he told the Tory conference that the so-called ‘national living wage’ could be raised to £10.50 an hour over the next five years and the age threshold lowered to 21.
 
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “In 2015, then Chancellor George Osborne made a similar announcement of £9 per hour by 2020. Unless the Government agrees an unlikely 9.6% increase next April, which would be very welcome, they will fail to deliver on that promise. The problem is that the Tories want people to hear the headline figure, but the commitment is reliant on average earnings predictions and we can’t hold any faith in them given the volatile economic circumstances the country faces.
 
“These ‘jam tomorrow’ qualified commitments do not put food on the table for low-paid workers struggling to make ends meet, which is why Usdaw is campaigning for at least £10 per hour. Not in five years, but now. Not a forecast figure, but at least £10 per hour guaranteed.
 
“Our ‘Time for Better Pay’ survey shows the extent to which workers are struggling to pay bills, relying on unsecured loans and suffering mental health issues because of money worries. So Usdaw is also calling for the minimum wage to be based on the real cost of living and we expect the £10 an hour commitment to rise with living costs.
 
“As for the Chancellor’s promise to lower the threshold to 21, while that is welcome it is only rectifying a past Tory injustice. Without any justification the Conservatives raised the threshold in 2015 for the top rate of minimum wage to an inexplicable 25 years old, which bears no relation to any recognised employment practice. Even 21 is difficult to understand in a modern world where the age of majority is commonly 18 and Usdaw has negotiated away age-related pay in our major agreements. We continue to campaign for the adult rate at 16 because going to work should mean a decent standard of living for all young workers.
 
“Usdaw is also campaigning for action on insecure work because, while a higher hourly rate is welcome, it can mean little if you can’t get the hours needed to make a weekly income that meets the cost of living. Too many workers cannot guarantee their weekly wage because of zero-hours and short-hours contracts. They deserve secure work.
 
“Yet again the Tories are trying to pull the wool over peoples’ eyes. Our members need real and substantial government action to tackle low pay and insecure work; not pre-election gimmicks.”
 
Usdaw’s ‘Time for Better Pay’ campaign is calling on the Government to strengthen workers’ rights by introducing:
  • A minimum wage rate of at least £10 per hour for all workers.
  • Minimum contracts of 16 hours per week for everyone who wants one.
  • Contracts based on an individual’s normal hours of work.
  • An end to zero-hours contracts.
For more information: www.usdaw.org.uk/T4BP
 
Usdaw’s ‘Time for Better Pay’ survey of over 10,500 working people about their experiences of low pay, short-hours contracts and insecure work shows that stronger employment rights are urgently needed:
  • Over the past five years, 92% of those surveyed have seen no improvement in their financial situation.
  • Over the past 12 months 76% of low-paid workers have had to rely on unsecured borrowing to pay everyday bills.
  • 63% of people believe that financial worries are having an impact on their mental health.
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 410,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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