Socialist Worker

Minimum wage dodging bosses owe workers millions

by Sam Ord
Issue No. 2766

Bosses who failed to pay workers properly include high street names such as John Lewis

Bosses who failed to pay workers properly include high street names such as John Lewis (Pic: Adrian Midgley/Flickr)


Bosses who’ve broken minimum wage laws owe more than £2 million to 34,000 workers, according to business department data.

Almost half of bosses highlighted deducted pay from workers’ wages—including for uniforms and expenses. Some 30 percent of bosses failed to pay workers for all the hours they had worked, such as overtime. And 19 percent didn’t pay the right apprenticeship rate.

Bosses who failed to pay workers properly include top high street names, such as John Lewis and The Body Shop.

The Tory government congratulated itself for “naming and shaming” and fining the bosses who broke minimum wage laws. It’s a hypocritical bluster from ministers who’ve refused to make any substantial rise to minimum wage in a decade when they hammered workers with austerity.

They even missed their own grossly inadequate target—of £9 an hour by 2020—set by former chancellor George Osborne.

The minimum wage stands at £8.91 an hour—and lower for those under the age of 23.

Meanwhile, the Tory government is looking to unleash a torrent of attacks on ordinary people.

One in five companies are considering sacking workers as furlough support is cut. And almost one in four companies are considering reducing hours or making a shift to a part-time workforce.

That’s according to figures from the bosses’ organisation, the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC).

Reforms 

The reforms to the coronavirus job retention scheme means the government will now pay just 60 percent of wages while bosses pay 20 percent.

The government had paid 80 percent of furloughed workers wages until last month when it was reduced to 70 percent. Bosses were expected to pay 10 percent. Before last month, bosses didn't have to pay a penny.

Around 1.9m workers still rely on furlough.

The scheme is set to end on 30 September, opening the door to mass sackings, fire and rehire or reduced hours.

Workers in grip of the economic crisis speak out—millions face jobs misery
Workers in grip of the economic crisis speak out—millions face jobs misery
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Of the 250 businesses surveyed by the BCC, 13 percent have cancelled or reduced recruitment plans.

Trade unions slammed the changes to the furlough. GMB union general secretary Gary Smith said, “Ending the furlough scheme too quickly could kill a recovery before it even starts.

“Instead of driving us off a furlough cliff-edge later this year, the government should provide continued support for employers that need it.

“Especially in those sectors that have been hammered by the pandemic.”

The Wales TUC union federation warned that half of all staff in travel agencies are still on furlough”. “We do feel that doubling the employer contribution is too much too soon, and puts jobs at risk in some parts of the economy,” it said.

Action—not just words by union leaders—are needed to stop the Tories and bosses plans to make workers pay for the coronavirus crisis.


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