Socialist Worker

'The rich want me to pay for their crisis'

I'm a care worker on less than £7 an hour with no pension – but Brown and the G20 are doing nothing to help millions like me

Issue No. 2145

Claudia Campbell  (Pic: Pete Jackson)

Claudia Campbell (Pic: Pete Jackson)


Claudia Campbell is one of millions of people working in Britain forced to live on very low pay.

As a care worker in Birmingham she spends long hours helping people with learning disabilities.

Despite her work being both demanding and important Claudia earns just £6.56 an hour – that's just £838 a month.

'It's a struggle to survive on what I earn,' she told Socialist Worker. 'Rents, bills and food prices are all spiralling – but my pay is standing still. When I'm in the supermarket I have to think very carefully about the price of every item I buy.'

There are no such worries for the G20 world leaders who are meeting in London this week. They are wining and dining on the best that Britain's restaurants have to offer, while the heads of industry talk of the need to cut costs.

But calls for 'belt tightening' by Britain's bosses can only mean more pay cuts and more job losses for the rest of us.

Already two thirds of British manufacturers say they have frozen pay or are considering doing so in the future. Meanwhile millions of public sector workers have suffered from below inflation rises for years in a row.

The rich are determined to use the economic crisis to their advantage. They don't just want to slash pay – they want an assault on pensions and public spending too.

In every town in Britain there are thousands of people who spend sleepless nights worrying about their jobs, their homes and how to carry on putting food on their family's tables. And it's the lowest paid and the unemployed that are being hit the hardest.

'Gordon Brown won't do anything for people like me,' says Claudia. 'If he was serious about helping those at the sharp end of the recession he could increase the minimum wage from just £5.73 an hour. Or he could step in to stop the jobs losses round here.'

The past four months has seen a jobs massacre in Claudia's home city of Birmingham. Some 450 people were made redundant at Jaguar Land Rover, 600 at nearby Aston Martin and 850 at van makers LDV.

And it's not just the manufacturers – many local suppliers have gone out of business too. Trade unions have at last woken up to the issue and are planning a massive demonstration over jobs in Birmingham on Saturday 16 May.

'There's got to be a fight over jobs,' says Claudia. 'But there should also be one about pay. Why should people like me be earning only the bare minimum when there are people like MPs who claim more in expenses than I will earn in a lifetime?' mean more pay cuts and more job losses for the rest of us.

Already two thirds of British manufacturers say they have frozen pay or are considering doing so in the future. Meanwhile millions of public sector workers have suffered below-inflation rises for years in a row.

The rich are determined to use the crisis to their advantage. They don't just want to slash pay – they want an assault on pensions and public spending too. And it's the lowest paid and the unemployed that are being hit the hardest.

'Gordon Brown won't do anything for people like me,' says Claudia. 'If he was serious about helping those at the sharp end of the recession he could increase the minimum wage from £5.73 an hour. Or he could step in to stop the jobs losses round here.'

The past four months has seen a jobs massacre in Claudia's home city of Birmingham, with redundancies at Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin and LDV.

Many suppliers have also gone out of business. Trade unions have at last woken up to the issue and are planning a mass demonstration over jobs in Birmingham on Saturday 16 May.

'There's got to be a fight over jobs,' says Claudia. 'But there should also be one about pay. Why should people like me be earning only the bare minimum when there are MPs who claim more in expenses than I will earn in a lifetime?'


If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.