Government and employers must end poverty pay, says UNISON

UNISON logo iMinimum hourly pay for workers must be increased substantially to reflect the rising cost of living, UNISON has said.

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 on Friday, UNISON highlighted 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.”

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