STUC Statement on Conservative Living Wage and Employment

July 8th 2015

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) believes that proposals announced by George Osborne are being introduced to deliberately undermine the efforts of trade unions and organisations, such as the Scottish Living Wage Campaign, to aspire to a proper Living Wage set at a rate that lifts people out of in work poverty.

From next year the UK Government plans to introduce a National living wage of £7.20, a rate that falls well below the £7.85 figure, calculated independently and based on the basic standard of living in the United Kingdom providing workers with enough money to have adequate accommodation, be fed, enjoy social integration not exclusion, and to avoid the wide range of physical and psychological health complaints associated with poverty.

The Chancellor has blatantly sought to hijack the Living Wage message and peddle their diluted version that will still see hundreds of thousands of low paid workers exposed to poverty pay without enough money to enjoy the very basic standard of living while the rich enjoy tax breaks that only widen the gap between our rich and poor.

At the same time as promoting itself as a benevolent Government giving British workers the pay rise they say they deserve they continue to attack the organisations that fight for workers, trade unions.

The last coalition Government presided over some of the harshest attacks on trade union, employment and health and safety legislation ever seen and the Conservatives are already planning draconian changes in trade union balloting arrangements that threaten workplace democracy.

The answer to creating sustainable and permanent employment lies not in attacking trade unions, but in recognising their role in defending worker’s rights and as an effective agent for creating sustainable, safe and permanent employment and contributing to economic development through collective and sectoral bargaining arrangements.

The United Kingdom Government’s own statistics show that that where trade union are organised and collective bargaining exists then there is a trade union wage premium, currently wages in trade unionised workplaces are on average 16.7% higher than in non-trade unionised. This figure increases to nearly 40% for workers under 24 years of age.

Trade unions will continue to fight for better wages for members for healthier and safer workplaces, to promote workplace equality and diversity, for skills development and for access to training and lifelong learning to deliver a more committed workforce in turn improving productivity and increasing job security.

The measures announced today by George Osborne promise more of the same; attack the most vulnerable and expose more people to insecure and precarious employment in workplaces that actively obstruct trade union organisation.

ENDS

Contact Ian Tasker 0141 337 8100

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