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Queen's Speech: Usdaw calls for an employment bill and housing bill to help low-paid workers tackle the cost of living crisis

Date: 07 May 2022 Retail trade union Usdaw is calling on the Government to use the next parliamentary term to bring forward a long awaited and overdue employment bill, along with a bill to tackle the housing emergency, as key measures to help workers struggling to make ends meet.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Next week’s Queen’s Speech is a crucial opportunity for the Government to demonstrate they understand the depth of the cost of living crisis now impacting far too many working people, something they have failed to do so far. So we are calling for them to focus on improving employment rights and tackling the housing crisis.
 
“The Government has so far not delivered on their manifesto promise to bring forward an employment bill, which we need to improve the rights of low-paid key workers. Having worked throughout the pandemic, risking their health and too often facing abuse from customers; many key workers are still struggling in low-paid insecure employment and now face a growing cost of living crisis.
 
“There needs to be lasting and fundamental change to the way society views workers. We need a New Deal for Workers: a minimum wage of at least £12 per hour, an end to insecure employment, respect for shopworkers and action to ensure that retail jobs are no longer underpaid and undervalued. Going to work should mean a decent standard of living for all workers.”
 
Usdaw’s New Deal for Workers calls for:
  • Minimum wage of at least £12 per hour as a step towards £15 for all workers, ending rip-off youth rates.
  • Minimum contract of 16 hours per week, for everyone who wants it, that reflects normal hours worked and a ban on zero-hour contracts.
  • Better sick pay for all workers, from day one, at average earnings.
  • Protection at work, respect for shopworkers, abuse is not a part of the job.
  • Proper social security system, Universal Credit does not provide an effective safety net.
  • Job security, with day one employment rights for unfair dismissal and significant improvements to redundancy protections.
  • Fair treatment and equality for all workers, including equal pay.
  • Voice at work, stop rogue employers refusing to engage with trade unions and end ‘fire and rehire’. 
Paddy Lillis continued: “The UK is in the midst of a housing crisis. According to the housing charity Shelter, over a quarter of a million people are homeless, including 126,000 children and in total, 17.5 million people are impacted by the housing emergency, living in overcrowded, dangerous, unstable or unaffordable housing.
 
“While there were some temporary protections in place during the coronavirus pandemic, such as the increase in Universal Credit, the eviction ban and the 'Everyone In' scheme, this support was withdrawn immediately and as a result, far too many people are struggling to put a decent roof over their heads. This is simply unacceptable. Usdaw's cost of living survey showed that more than one in five respondents missed rent or mortgage payments last year, a figure that rose to over one in four for those with children. These are mainly key workers struggling with housing costs.
 
“Usdaw believes the Government needs to build 145,000 home that are genuinely available and accessible to all working people each year for the next five years. This should include 100,000 homes a year for social rent, providing those on low incomes access to long term tenancies, in quality controlled accommodation. There is a clear need for high quality housing, which should never be seen as a luxury only available to the rich, but as a basic right.”
 
Usdaw is calling on a Government housing bill to:
  • Give first time buyers exclusive rights to purchase new-build homes for the first six months after they become available.
  • In areas where the housing crisis is at its worse, prioritise housing delivery when selling surplus public sector land and buildings, rather than selling sites to the highest bidder.
  • Introduce rent controls.
  • Increase the proportion of affordable housing requirements on developers. 
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with around 360,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry 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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