Socialist Worker

Action is urgently needed over pay as Tory ‘living wage’ is found too low to live on

Issue No. 2568

Former Tory chancellor George Osborne in 2014

Former Tory chancellor George Osborne in 2014 (Pic: HM Treasury)


The Tories’ sham “living wage” is not even enough to allow families to support their children, according to a shock new report by the Child Poverty Action Group.

Two-parent families working full time on the national living wage are £59 a week short of the cost of providing their children with a basic standard of living.

Single parents working full time on the national living wage are short £68 every week.

The report also drew attention to the effect of the Tory benefit freeze on out of work parents.

Single parents relying on benefits are typically £146 short every week, while unemployed couples are short £187.

The report’s author Donald Hirsch said Tory benefit cuts had made low-paid families’ situations worse.

“The struggle that low-income families face to make ends meet will become steadily harder, especially because it is being combined with numerous other cuts including the benefit cap and the bedroom tax,” he said.

Wheeze

The Tories rebranded the national minimum wage the “living wage” in 2016—a wheeze by former chancellor George Osborne to sugar coat low pay. It is much lower than the living wage defined by the Living Wage Foundation.

The Tories’ minimum wage is just £7.50 an hour for people aged 25 and over, falling to just £4.05 for workers aged under 18.

That’s much less than the actual living wage of £8.45 an hour, or £9.75 for people living in London.

The shocking new figures are another reason for the trade unions to lead a fight over pay.

The TUC union federation has called a rally outside parliament on Tuesday 17 October to demand that the government lifts the 1 percent public sector pay cap.

This is a good start, but action has to be much harder.

Civil service workers in the PCS union are organising lunchtime protests outside Home Office, Ministry of Justice and HMR Revenue and customs offices on Thursday of next week.

The union is also planning to hold a consultative ballot of its members in November to see if they would be willing to strike against the pay cap.

Activists in other public sector unions should follow the PCS’s lead and build support for strikes.


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