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From: The Socialist issue 1128, 7 April 2021: Pay NHS staff 15%!

Search site for keywords: Low-paid - Workers - Pay - Covid - living wage

Low-paid workers shouldn't pay for Covid crisis

  (Click to enlarge)

Ferdy Lyons, East London Socialist Party

On 1 April the minimum wage was increased from 8.71 to 8.91 an hour for those aged 23 and over. For low-paid workers this was welcome news. However, for myself and fellow furloughed workers this wasn't the case. Our pay will continue to be based on the previous year's pay.

We were already struggling to live on the so-called 'living wage', so having to live off 80% of that for the majority of the last twelve months has been horrendous.

According to the House of Commons Library, 800,000 low-paid workers were on furlough in February. Many haven't been able to pay their bills, plunged into debts they can't repay and having to rely on the kindness of family or unaffordable loans to survive. Not including us in the increase will only exacerbate this problem.

Our exclusion is outrageous, but it's also the case that 8.91 an hour is still far too low to survive on, especially for workers living in London. The Living Wage Foundation sets a voluntary Real Living Wage of 9.50 nationally and 10.85 in London. A full-time employee on these levels would earn about 1,150 and 3,800 a year more than those on the government's so-called National Living Wage. Low-paid workers shouldn't be made to pay for the Covid crisis. We need a 15 minimum wage for all and full pay for all furloughed 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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Article dated 7 April 2021

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RMT picket at Nottingham station - East Midlands Railway dispute - Sunday 13th June, photo by G Freeman

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