We hear a lot about the so-called “cost of living crisis” as if it has been created by some uncontrollable event.
The reality is that it’s largely caused by the greed of large corporations that have taken the opportunity post-COVID to increase profits by putting up prices while simultaneously cutting the pay and the bargaining leverage of their workers through zero hour and bogus self-employed contracts and fire and rehire practices.
Job insecurity is one of the main reasons for low pay. While inflation has recently been close to 10% many workers have seen little increase in their pay.
Despite what you may hear in the mainstream media, inflation has not been caused by high wages. Salaries of working people have not increased anywhere near the level of inflation and at a time when the average pay for a CEO with a FTSE100 company has risen by 16% over the past year to £3.91-million, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says that one in eight UK workers (13%) are in in-work poverty, unable to make ends meet or cover their essential living costs.
Furthermore, the number of working people on insecure zero hour contracts has increased significantly since 2010 when the Tories returned to office. Figures published by the Office of National Statistics a couple of weeks ago show that 1.18 million people are now employed on zero hour contracts (3.6% of those in employment) compared to 168,000 (0.6%) in 2010.
These figures include 103,000 in the South West. These people will be on the lowest pay and have the worst working conditions and are unlikely to be protected from unfair dismissal or receive holiday and sick pay etc.
If they join unions or complain, they are likely to lose their jobs, have their hours reduced or be given the worst shifts.
In order to reverse this decline in wages and working conditions we urgently need a Labour Government that will implement immediately its “New Deal for Working People”. This commits to abolishing zero hour contracts and fire and rehire and creating a single status of workers for all but the genuinely self-employed.
It proposes that all workers will have the same basic rights and protections, including sick pay, holiday pay, parental leave and protection against unfair dismissal. It will also end the two-year qualifying period for basic rights including protection against unfair dismissal.
Only when all workers have basic employment rights, are able to join trade unions without the threat of dismissal and negotiate pay and working conditions, will they be able to earn enough to live comfortably and cover their essential living costs.
Working people need a “new deal” and a government that will implement it as soon as possible if they are to survive the next few years.