Over the course of the Covid pandemic, workers have been reminded once again that the country can’t run without them. Across Scotland, across Britain, and around the world, they’re demanding higher wages to end the scourge of in-work poverty.
In Scotland, fast food workers have been fighting since 2019 for a wage they can survive on. NHS workers have been organising throughout the pandemic for their own 15% pay rise. GMB Scotland organised demos of frontline and key workers in Glasgow City Council, demanding an extra £2 an hour.
The Workers Party supports the struggle for a £15-per-hour minimum wage, unions that will fight for the rank and file, and a new working-class politics that will take our demands to the centres of power.
Decent pay, a fighting union, and an independent voice in politics – are these too much to ask?
Care industry workers fighting for £15
Social care workers have been put under incredible strain during the Covid crisis, putting their lives on the line in tough conditions to keep care residents safe. They’ve been demanding £15 an hour for over a year now, and for good reason.
Over three-quarters of social care workers in Scotland have considered leaving their care sector because they are undervalued. Nearly four-fifths of care home staff surveyed reported under-staffing in their workplace. And over four-fifths believe their industry in Scotland is not properly funded.
The trade union GMB Scotland’s organiser Rhea Wolfson said in August last year:
“The industry and politicians already understood pre-Covid the chronic exploitation of what is a predominantly women workforce; mired in low pay, precarious conditions, under resourced, overworked and a broken model of funding.
“The prospect of leaving this exhausted and traumatised workforce on wages up to £5 an hour less than the UK average (nearly £15 an hour) just isn’t credible – what employer or politician is going to tell them they are worth less than average after all they are doing?”
Fast food workers out on strike
Care workers aren’t the only ones. Long before the pandemic hit our shores, workers in McDonald’s – here in the UK and around the world – were striking for a living wage. Paid less than £10 an hour, with no set hours, many fast food workers in Britain’s big cities are struggling to make their rent.
And what a surprise – they’ve been calling for £15 an hour too. Lewis Baker, McDonald’s employee, told Press Association:
“If we got £15 an hour, it would have a massive impact – I would be able to afford to pay my rent, to pay my bills, go on holiday and have some kind of work-life balance.”
Our care workers deserve it. Our fast food workers deserve it. Every British worker deserves fifteen quid an hour and the pockets of the CEOs and their corporations are deep enough to find it.
We’ve all seen the money wasted during this pandemic – on the disastrous test and trace system, on fraudulent PPE contracts. Money that wasn’t poured down the drain, but into the pockets of those in charge and their cronies.
The ‘magic money tree’ quite clearly exists – it’s just a trick they keep to themselves.
The disgraceful impact of poverty wages
Vast swathes of our working class are now living below the breadline. Over 50% of children living in poverty are living in a household where at least one parent works. Around 20% of working households depend on income-based state benefit.
Low wages and in-work poverty causes developmental issues with children making it difficult for them to fit into the modern workforce.
They lead to lower productivity – workers who live with too much stress and too little money and time to deal with life’s issues struggle to do good work.
They lead to employers gaining profits not from increasing the productivity of their business but instead by driving down wages further still.
These statistics only tell us what workers already know – so many in our communities are working families living in poverty, at the point of food insecurity.
It’s not rocket science
Our so-called leaders will find anything to bicker about that isn’t workers’ wages. Where is our voice in Holyrood? In Westminster?
It is clear now that no matter which of the mainstream parties is in power, and no matter if there is a pandemic or not, nothing is set to change. Not with the SNP, not with Labour, not with the Tories.
But our demands are also clear. They are reasonable, practical, and achievable. We don’t want food banks, we don’t want charity, we don’t want to live on benefits. All we want is decent employment and a living wage.
The Workers Party support these demands – for every worker in Scotland, for every worker in Britain. We will stand with workers in all of their struggles for a wage that will – at the very least least! – keep their stomachs full and the landlord off their backs.
On top of this, too many of us are not unionised, or are members of unions that won’t backs us. In these circumstances, the working class needs an independent voice – outside the establishment parties – that will genuinely fight its corner.
Speak to our representatives on the streets, or find our contact details at the bottom of this paper. Get involved with the Workers Party and let your voice be heard.