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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 November 2019

Minimum wage debate: what should we be demanding?

The Socialist is running a debate. How we can end low pay and what minimum wage level should we be fighting for? In this issue, readers share their thoughts. If you've got a view, email editors@socialistparty.org.uk. You can read what's been written so far at socialistparty.org.uk


In my working life we could afford homes and holidays, now its horror without end

Clive Walder, Birmingham South West Socialist Party

The articles on the gig economy in the Socialist are interesting and worthy of further comment. (See 'Film reviews: Sorry We Missed You by Ken Loach').

I too enjoyed 'Sorry We Missed You'. It made me glad that I'm at the end and not the beginning of my working life.

My working life spanned a period when strong trade unions negotiated half-decent pay and working conditions and we could afford to buy houses and have holidays.

The film's message - that work for far too many people is horror without end - came over very well. It made me think that I couldn't cope with the modern world of work.

Sorry We Missed You's main weakness was that there was no mention of trade unions. The film would have had even more resonance if there was a scene where Ricky joined a union and tried to get his fellow deliverers to do likewise. Uber Eats and Deliveroo workers have already started to do this in real life.

Chris Parry's article about his life as a taxi driver raised some interesting points. (See 'Life in the gig economy' at socialistparty.org.uk).

Like many people, I have had to fork out for expensive taxi fares when I have missed my last bus and cursed how much I've had to spend. Chris explained the money doesn't go to the cabbie, but in expenses and to the company owner's profit.

Taxis are the only form of public transport that receives no public subsidy. They should be integrated into a publicly owned transport system.

In my job - a customer-relations advisor for a bus company - I often have to write letters to customers to say we won't provide the bus service they think is necessary, because it wouldn't be commercially viable.

A bus service literally for two or three people wouldn't be an efficient use of resources, in many cases. But a publicly owned taxi network could provide taxis to meet those needs.

End low pay! UberEats workers protest over their abysmal wage rates photo Scott Jones, photo Scott Jones

End low pay! UberEats workers protest over their abysmal wage rates photo Scott Jones, photo Scott Jones   (Click to enlarge)


Pay up and bring us back in-house

A Unite the Union local government rep in London

We are launching a 15-an-hour claim with Apcoa Parking in Hackney. Following previous campaigns, they already pay the London Living Wage of 10.55 an hour.

But the Living Wage Foundation is about to announce a higher rate. I know that Camden traffic enforcement get 11.48 already.

As well as increased pay, it's about restoring collective bargaining rights. Like many other contractors, Apcoa stopped pay bargaining and fell back to the London Living Wage only.

We call for parking services to be brought in-house. We couldn't legally put this to a ballot. But this is the underlying demand of the campaign.

The plan is to promote this demand among Unite the Union members and publicly pressure local-authority employers. We've had some success already. School cleaners in Hackney have won the London Living Wage and ended term-time-only pay.

The contractor, Kiers, has now decided to pull out of the contract, because it is not making money. The connection is obvious. We are demanding that Hackney Council now take the service back in-house.


The trade unions can do it

John Merrell, Leicester Socialist Party

The National Living Wage for workers aged over 25, was set at 7.20 an hour in April 2016 with a proposed increase to 9 by April 2020. Introduced by the Tories, if that transpires it will be a 25% increase over four years.

The proposal by Tory chancellor Savid Javid is 10.50 a hour by 2024. It is a worse deal, 17% over four years. Nevertheless, these increases far exceed the pay rises of many other workers under the Tories.

Alistair Tice, writing in the Socialist, pointed out: "There are now two million workers on the minimum wage compared with 700,000 when it was first introduced." This explains the anguish expressed by Band-3 health workers to Socialist Party member Jon Dale. (See 'Minimum wage debate: how can we end the scandal of low pay?').

What if the trade unions - representing the most-organised workers - achieved better pay without youth exemptions, and the reinstatement of differentials reflecting skills and expertise based on 'equal pay for work of equal value'?

That would be a benchmark for trade unions to campaign among less-well-organised workers to achieve the same. Especially where there is a relationship between two sets of workers, for example, the motor industry and its parts suppliers or local authorities and their providers of goods and services.

What should the minimum wage be? I agree with Jon Dale. "12 an hour should be the headline figure."

What should it be in London? Most if not all national pay agreements include a London uplift. In my former industry, it was the London Weighting Allowance.

If there is a consensus across national union agreements on the percentage uplift, it could inform our minimum wage amount for London workers.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 6 November 2019:


News

Whose side are you on? Tories out - Corbyn in with anti-austerity and socialist policies

Tony Blair launches manifesto to sabotage a Corbyn government

Grenfell fire inquiry spin deflects blame from establishment

General election 2019 round-up


Berlin Wall

30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall: How a mass revolutionary movement for genuine socialism was diverted


Socialism 2019

Elections, strikes and revolutions: Socialism 2019 - daring to fight

PCS: "Under the right leadership workers are prepared to fight"

Royal Mail strike: "This is going to be the biggest battle we've seen in Britain for a number of years"

McDonald's: 'I'm fighting for 15 an hour now because I have to work from 7am to midnight'

Northern Ireland: Uniting the working class to transcend division

Preparing to shape events internationally


International socialist news and analysis

End repression in Chile - freedom for soldier David Veloso


Workplace news

PCS: Pay, jobs, pensions... Vote for a fighting general secretary

UCU votes for pay and pension strikes

Incompetent bosses use tech to bully us

1 million cuts plan: Peabody housing workers announce strike ballot

Forbo Flooring Derbyshire strike

West Midlands Trains guards to strike

Double-dealing Hackney council bosses face renewed strike action


Minimum wage

Minimum wage debate: what should we be demanding?


Readers' opinion

TV: Crime and Punishment - this brutal watch is a damning indictment of cuts and capitalism


 

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Related links:

Minimum wage:

triangleCallous Tories threaten not to uprate the minimum wage

triangleWorkers need a 'new deal' - at least 12 an hour now!

triangleUniversal Basic Income: not a solution to insecurity and poverty under capitalism

triangleThe minimum wage must go up! Fund coronavirus workers, not bosses' profits!

triangleEssential workers deserve more

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triangleNHS workers: "We deserve a fair wage" - 15% now!

triangleAngry health workers demand 15% now!

triangleNational Shop Stewards Network lobbying for a lead from the TUC

triangleOur lives and livelihoods at stake

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triangleBlame politicians, not workers and young people

triangleStrike wave marks new stage in revival of Iranian workers' movement

triangleBelarus: Mass opposition continues to defy repression by Lukashenko's regime

London:

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Tories in Crisis

triangleLondon bus drivers begin strike ballot over remote sign-on dispute

Living wage:

triangleSouth Africa: Building jobs and living wage campaign

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