Public service workers deserve better than poverty wages, says UNISON

Living Wage Foundation data shows extent of low wages

Public service workers deserve better than poverty wages, says UNISON

Commenting on new data published today (Thursday) by the Living Wage Foundation that shows over one million public sector workers are earning less than the real living wage, UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said:

“Hundreds of thousands of workers delivering essential public services are on poverty pay. Many have second and even third jobs just to keep the wolf from the door. This is taking a toll on their health, family life and productivity too.

“Last year’s NHS and council pay deals saw the lowest-paid workers’ wages go above the real living wage. But colleagues on outsourced contracts in care, cleaning and catering weren’t so fortunate and many are still on the legal minimum.

“In a decent, caring society no-one should be struggling like this. Dedicated public servants deserve better.”

Notes to editors:
– The real living wage is independently calculated and is based on the real cost of living. It is currently £9 an hour across the UK and £10.55 in London.
– On Monday more than 40 cleaners, catering staff, porters and security officers employed by the private company OCS at Liverpool Women’s Hospital went on strike over the company’s refusal to pay them the NHS rate for the job. The lowest pay rate for a worker in the NHS is £8.93 per hour, but the OCS staff get considerably less, with some only receiving the minimum legal hourly rate of £7.83. More strike dates are planned.
– Stephanie Mahoney works as a domestic at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. She is paid £7.83 an hour, and says: “It’s a real struggle to cope on the wage I’m on. I’m a single parent and need to keep a roof over my son’s head. Gas and food bills keep going up for everyone so it’s harder for us to make ends meet. I sometimes work alongside colleagues paid £9 an hour, but we’re doing the same work.”
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.

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