#£10NOW Real Living Wage Campaign
Better pay, better conditions. This has long been the mantra of much of the Trade Union movement and continues to be as we campaign for a Real Living Wage to replace the National Minimum Wage. The Real Living Wage of £10 per hour as advocated by the Trade Union movement is not some arbitrary and convenient figure like the tax paid by so many multi-national corporations. Instead it is an amount carefully calculated to be the wage in which you can start to live your life.
The GMB Young Members Network is proud to have the campaign for a Real Living Wage at the heart of its Fair Deal for Young Workers pledge. We are prepared to carry the fight to the streets, the lawmakers, and to workplaces which pay pitiful wages.
Organising in such workplaces faces a number of challenges. The nature of Zero Hours contracts may result in punitive action (such as hours not being offered) being exacted on those that stand up to them. The bravery of those working in precarious sectors is borne from a number of sources including: personal resolve, a burning hatred of injustice, and the support they receive from their unions. BFAWU in particular have done phenomenal work within the Fast Food Sector ensuring that each of their members are aware that they have the full support of their union at every level.
We recently saw the power of co-ordinated campaign action as GMB both supported and instigated public protests calling for support for Fast Food Workers in the form of demanding a £10 per hour Real Living Wage and proper contracts. Press Releases, street demos, media interviews, and a sustained campaign on Social Media all contributed to ensuring our message was heard.
It is telling that within a day of the most recent protests one fast food chain announced that it would begin rolling out offers of legitimate contracts with guaranteed contracts to its employees. This can only be seen as a direct result of the actions undertaken by Unions exerting pressure over time. This is to be welcomed as a step in the right direction but with much ground still to go.
How much of a priority is the £10NOW campaign to Young Workers? Well at the TUC Young Workers Conference 2016 a number of unions submitted motions on the demand for the TUC to prioritise campaigning for the Real Living Wage of £10 per hour. These motions were composited and after a number of impassioned speeches from those affected it has been sent on to the TUC. GMB Young Members stand with our brothers and sisters in fellow unions to reject the notion that we are literally worth less.
In a country where age discrimination is supposedly against the law, the use of age differentials ensures that younger workers can be legally paid a lower rate than their older counterparts. George Osborne appeared to be aware that the current Minimum Wage rate was insufficient hence the introduction of the “National Living Wage”. Yet his new rate was still below what’s required and extends only to the 25s and above. All current minimums fall short of the £10 per hour recognised by the TUC as what is required for workers to truly live on. Osborne’s “National Living Wage” is neither “National” nor fit for “Living” – through its omission of those below the age of 25 George Osborne reaffirms the Conservative contempt for youth in society. Tory economic policy for Young Workers is a sneer in legislative form.
I’ve been asked if I’m concerned about how a Real Living Wage may affect businesses. I’m deeply concerned. I’m concerned that under current legislation Young Workers can’t afford to buy products in many businesses, I’m concerned as to the number of Young Workers on low pay with hunger pains and the danger of passing out in the workplace, I’m concerned that Young Workers are deemed as legitimate collateral damage amidst the economic warfare which is being wrought across this nation. Time and again I have said that politics is about the food in your mouth and the roof over your head and that those necessities are no cheaper due to your age. This is why we need #10PoundNOW.
We must have a presence on the streets – hence our public demonstrations. We must have change in our employment law – thus our lobbying of elected representatives. We must have action in the workplaces – which is why the union movement is actively recruiting in Fast Food outlets.
Now is the time to join and get active in the union movement. We seek not merely to tear down the workplace systems which have failed us – we seek to build up a new workplace structure which supports us all. We fight as Unions Together.
Chair GMB Young Members Network
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