While key workers are focused on looking after us. We should be focused on looking after them
On May Day, the STUC is today launching a campaign urging employers and government to implement an immediate uplift on the hourly rate of pay by at least £2 for all key workers in Scotland. These key workers include NHS workers, carers, emergency workers, frontline council workers, school support staff, nursery workers, retail workers, transport, contact centre, low paid factory workers and the ‘unseen’ public service workers many of them working from home and for the government itself. They are keeping our essential systems of government running, like taxation, welfare and supporting Scottish government work to fight against covid-19.
It also says that the UK Governments statutory Minimum Wage should be increased immediately to £10 per hour for all workers.
Analysis reveals that:
• Across the UK, fully a third of key workers earn £10 an hour or less.
• The typical key worker earns £1 an hour less than the typical earner in a non-key occupation (£12.26 p/h compared to £13.26)
• Following a decade of austerity, the wage gap between key workers and non-key workers across the UK has grown from 5% in 2010 to 9% last year
• Keyworkers are more likely to be female.
• Across the UK, 71% of key workers in the food sector earn £10 an hour or less. Almost 30% were born outside the UK. These workers include farm workers, food processors, shopkeepers such as bakers, and supermarket staff. Last year the median food sector employee earned just £8.59 an hour, only 38 pence higher than the then minimum wage of £8.21 (as of April 1 the minimum wage is £8.72).
• Across the UK, 58% of social care workers are paid less than the real living wage of £9.30 an hour. In Scotland, the figure is 43%. The social care workforce is predominantly female and there is a high proportion of migrants. Even before the covid 19 epidemic there was a staffing crisis in social care.
• In Scotland, 43% of retail and wholesale workers are paid less than the real living wage. This compares to 17% across the Scottish economy.
• Some UK government administration workers in HMRC or Department of Work and Pensions are paid less than £10 an hour
• The lowest NHS pay band for a nurse is under £20,000.
STUC General Secretary Rozanne Foyer says:
**“We know that the priority of key workers across the country during this crisis is keeping others well, safe and supplied. But just because that it their priority, it doesn’t mean we should forget their needs. We need to reverse the long-term trend of undervaluing these heroes, and we need to start now.”
“So many of these workers came into this crisis undervalued and underpaid. They are many of the same people who bore the brunt of the 2010 recession. More than half of them are women. We want to ensure that as we emerge from this current crisis history does not repeat itself.
“The country has shown great appreciation by clapping key workers’ magnificent commitment every Thursday, but we believe people want to go the extra mile for those workers and make sure they are able to pay the rent and the food bills they face. “For many of these workers, particularly in the food sector, the UK Government could make a real difference by taking the first step of raising the Living Wage to £10. This basic minimum should apply to all workers, whatever their age.
“We will be meeting with the Scottish Government today, to press that key workers whose work is directly or indirectly paid for through public funds, should receive at least a £2 hourly uplift. We also want them to join with us in pressing the UK Government for that immediate Minimum Wage uplift to £10 and to make the fiscal commitment to raising pay.”**
Typical hourly rate for key workers (based on ONS data for Scotland in 2019)
• National government administrative occupations – £12.16 Women hold 58% of these jobs.
• Local government administrative occupations - £11.97. Women hold 74% of these jobs.
• Nursery nurses and assistants - £11.21. Women hold 96% of these jobs.
• Bus and coach drivers - £10.70. Women hold 9% of these jobs.
• Packers, bottlers, canners and fillers – £10.09. Women hold 46% of these jobs.
• Care workers and home carers - £10.03. Women hold 82% of these jobs.
• Educational support assistants - £9.96. Women hold 89% of these jobs.
• Hospital porters - £9.70. Employment split not available.
• Childminders and related occupations - £9.62. Women hold 92% of these jobs.
• Van drivers - £9.58. Women hold 7% of these jobs.
• Food, drink and tobacco process operatives – £9.50. Women hold 33% of these jobs.
• Cleaners and domestics - £8.94. Women hold 77% of these jobs.
• Shelf fillers - £8.87. Women hold 50% of these jobs.
• Call and contact centre occupations - £8.85. Women hold 58% of these jobs.
• Retail cashiers and check-out operators - £8.72. Women hold 76% of these jobs.
• Sales and retail assistants - £8.70. Women hold 64% of these jobs.
• Kitchen and catering assistants - £8.47. Women hold 64% of these jobs.
• Firefighter trainee - £10.67 an hour, Firefighter development £11.11 an hour, Firefighter competent £14.22 an hour
• Firefighter (Control) trainee - £10.14 an hour, Firefighter (Control) development £10.56 an hour, Firefighter (Control) competent £13.51 an hour