Only workers’ collective power will reverse declining wages

October 18th 2017

It is sobering news to see Scottish unemployment rise by 0.3% this quarter. While the general trend is for low unemployment, it is a reminder of the problems that still exist in the labour market in Scotland.

It is clear from this week’s pessimistic reports on the state of economy that wages remain in a downward spiral and prices continue to rise. Today’s ONS figures confirm a further fall in real wages for workers of 0.4%.

The OECD Economic Survey Overview, published earlier this week, attributed continuing falls in real wages to lower levels of unionisation and collective bargaining, and the growth of insecure and part-time jobs, and zero-hours contracts.

Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) General Secretary Graham Smith said:

“The reality is that many workers across the UK are at breaking point, and for too many work does not offer an effective route out of poverty. It is only through workers strengthening their collective bargaining power in low wage, low respect, low dignity workplaces that we will begin to see a more secure labour market.

In the public sector, where both governments have the biggest capacity to act on wages, they are sitting on their hands.

The Scottish Government’s Fair Work Framework echoes our call for the expansion of workers’ collective bargaining and they now must support its extension into low wage sectors such as hospitality and retail. The STUC’s campaign against precarious work, Better Than Zero, has proven that when workers join together and fight back against bad employers they can improve their pay, terms and conditions.”


Notes to editors:

For further information contact Dave Moxham on 0141 337 8100

OECD Economic Surveys United Kingdom: Page 29

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