Last week, Prime Minister David Cameron made told the British Chambers of Commerce conference that he believed ‘Britain needs a payrise’. This despite the fact he has presided over the longest squeeze on living standards since Queen Victoria was on the throne, and a huge rise in low paid and insecure jobs. We’re going to need much more than pre-election mood music if Britain is truly to get the pay rise it needs and deserves.
For instance, we need measures to boost collective bargaining, union membership and sectoral pay agreements. And, as the economy grows, we need to end the public sector pay cap. More broadly, a fair and sustainable recovery will need a coherent industrial strategy that creates well-paid secure jobs, especially for young people. And we also need to do much more as a country to tackle soar away executive pay. Research carried out by Incomes Data Services for the TUC last year showed that Britain’s highest paid director earned what a worker on the Living Wage earns in an entire year in just 49 minutes. Even when companies perform badly, senior executives continue to rake it in.
The privileged few grabbing an ever larger slice of the wage pie is not inevitable. And neither is low pay for the many. We need practical measures to get more accountability into top pay, like putting worker representatives onto executive pay boards. The TUC are raising the issue across the country from today with Fair Pay Fortnight. Running from Monday 16 February to Sunday 1 March, it’s two weeks of events and campaigning to raise awareness about low pay, squeezed living standards and pay inequality. If you’re concerned about our growing pay crisis, visit fairpayfortnight.org and find out how you can get involved.