Government and employers must end poverty pay, says UNISON

Minimum hourly pay for workers must be increased substantially to reflect the rising cost of living, said UNISON today (Friday).

The union is calling on the government to raise the current legal minimum from £7.50 an hour to the level of the real living wage (£8.45 an hour or £9.75 in London). It also wants to see everyone in jobs paid the same rate as the over 25s, including young employees and apprentices.

In its evidence submitted to the Low Pay Commission today (Friday), UNISON highlights the struggle faced by many low-paid public service employees.

An analysis by UNISON of staff working in public services including the NHS, local government and education reveals that tens of thousands* are not being paid the real living wage.

The figures are likely to be an underestimate as they exclude those who deliver public services through private organisations in areas such as social care, cleaning and catering, according to UNISON.

Some staff especially those in the care sector are being exploited because the existing minimum wage is not being enforced, says UNISON.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Poverty pay should be outlawed in the 21st century. Yet employers are still cheating staff out of their rightful earnings.

“It’s also wrong that young workers doing exactly the same job as older colleagues are paid less per hour just because of their age.

“Everyone benefits if staff are paid a decent wage. They deserve an hourly rate that reflects the real cost of living for them and their families.”

Notes for editors:
* UNISON estimates that 163,466 full-time staff out of 2.3m directly employed in local government, the NHS, higher and further education, and sixth form colleges were paid below the £8.45 real living wage over the past year. The findings are based on employer workforce data.
– UNISON backs the Living Wage Foundation’s campaign for employers to pay staff the real living wage. The goal is for this wage to reach a minimum of £10 an hour countrywide.
-The Low Pay Commission is reviewing rates for 2018. The government’s national living wage is currently £7.50 an hour for 25 and over. It’s minimum wage is £7.05 for 21 to 24-year-olds; £5.60 for 18 to 20-year olds; £4.05 for under-18s; and £3.50 for apprentices.
-Click here for UNISON’s evidence to the Low Pay Commission and here for research on youth rates.

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