OVER a million public sector workers across Britain are paid poverty level wages according to a report issued yesterday by the Living Wage Foundation.
1.2 million working in the NHS, in local councils and throughout the public sector are being paid wages of less than £10.55 an hour in London while outside the capital wages are less than £9 an hour.
Half a million are employed by outsourced contractors but three quarters of a million work directly for public sector employers.
The vast majority of public sector workers forced to live on poverty level rates of pay are in local authority jobs including teaching assistants, cleaners, care workers and catering staff.
In all, these low paid public sector workers account for 20% of the 6 million people paid less than the amount calculated by the independent Living Wage Foundation as being the ‘real living wage’ required to keep families out of poverty.
The real living wage is higher than the Tories ‘national living wage’ which employers are legally bound to pay and which currently stands at £7.83 an hour across the country.
Youth under 25 don’t even have legal protection to be paid the poverty level of the national living wage as the Tories decreed that their minimum wage rates must also take into account affordability for employers.
The difference between the two rates is simply that the Tories based their figure for a national living wage not on what workers and their families need to live on, but instead on a target.
This target is to achieve 60% of the average wage of workers by 2020 which equates to a pay increase of less than £9 an hour. So as far as the Tories are concerned these workers in vital public sector jobs will always be kept earning 40% less than everyone else.
While the Tories are inflicting permanent poverty through their wage cuts and freezes they are busy handing out billions to the bosses.
This was illustrated dramatically this week when the house building company Persimmon announced record breaking profits of £1.09 billion last year, the biggest ever made by a UK house building company. This huge profit comes from money handed to them by the Tory government.
In 2013 the Tories launched a ‘help-to-buy’ scheme supposedly to help struggling families buy their first home. Companies like Persimmon immediately jacked up the price of each house they built inflating house prices and generating huge profits for houses that many buyers have condemned as being sub-standard.
Since help-to-buy was introduced the profit from each house sold has nearly tripled – profit paid for by the taxpayer. Public sector workers are condemned to live in permanent poverty while the former boss of Persimmon was offered £110 million bonus.
What is the position of the TUC on the burning issue of poverty level wages? This week the general secretary of the TUC Frances O’Grady speaking about income inequality could only beg the Tories to ‘redesign the economy to make it work for everyone’ and for them to raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour.
The working class is powerful and doesn’t need to beg to Tories for anything. Workers will ‘redesign’ this bankrupt capitalist system by putting an end to it through socialist revolution.
Workers must take action and demand the TUC leaders either take action or be removed and replaced by a leadership that will call an immediate general strike to kick out the Tories and bring in a workers government that will immediately expropriate the bosses and bankers and place industry and the banks under the management and for the benefit of the working class as part of a socialist planned economy.
Only by abolishing capitalism and advancing to a socialist society can poverty be abolished and workers and their families ensured decent wages and housing.
This requires the building of a new revolutionary leadership within the working class that will lead the struggle for socialist revolution.
Only the WRP and Young Socialists are building this leadership and we call on every worker and young person to join today.