21 October 2020
Sheffield is “The Low Wage Capital of the UK”
You can’t live on 2/3 of Minimum Wage!
£41M funding goes to business not workers
We need funding for an effective local track and trace system NOW!
Reacting to today’s announcement that Sheffield and the rest of South Yorkshire will go into Tier 3 COVID restrictions from one minute past midnight on Saturday, Martin Mayer Secretary Sheffield TUC slammed the £41M deal agreed with the Government: “Sheffield is the Low Wage Capital of Britain with more workers on the Minimum Wage and/or on Zero Hours contracts than elsewhere. Where is the support for these workers if they are furloughed or lose their jobs? You can’t live on the Minimum Wage never mind 2/3 of it. This is unacceptable and will make low paid workers pay for Tier 3 restrictions”.
Sheffield TUC’s Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise Campaign has highlighted the extent of low pay/zero hours/bogus self-employment in Britain’s 5th largest city. Sheffield Union Organiser Rohan Kon says: “The lives of low wage workers in the city are in turmoil. This pandemic has shone a light on the people who really keep Sheffield going. It isn’t the billionaires, the bankers or the CEOs. It’s the healthcare workers, the carers, the cleaners, the transport workers, the refuse collectors and the fast-food workers who feed people. Global corporations are risking the health of our communities by putting workers in the impossible position of choosing between health and paying the bills.”
Aya, 19, a Sheffield fast food worker and member of Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise says: “It feels like we’re going backwards, but this time the government is focusing on keeping businesses open rather than saving our lives. They never prioritised us, it’s money before health for them. Lots of working families are living in poverty in Sheffield because of this, we can’t afford to live on less than minimum wage. That’s why I’m fighting for full sick pay and 100% furlough pay if workplaces close.”
“Boris Johnson boasted of ‘levelling-up’ when he won the election last year” said Martin Mayer. “Instead we’ve seen the poor get poorer and now they face destitution. A professional person on £60,000 can live on 2/3 salary for a time, but workers on the Minimum Wage cannot. At the very least he should have guaranteed the Minimum Wage as the bottom line when workers are furloughed.”
Sheffield TUC’s Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise Campaign is also calling for workers who are off sick or self-isolating to be guaranteed the Minimum Wage. At just £95 per week, SSP is simply not enough to live on and desperation is driving these workers back to work – and that risks spreading the infection to other workers and back into the community.
SHEFFIELD TRADE UNION COUNCIL is campaigning for an effective local track, trace and support system, run under the auspices of our proven local Public Health departments. “No amount of restrictions on people’s social contacts will solve this problem until we do what New Zealand, Vietnam, South Korea and even China have done with an effective community-based track and trace system that supports people who are self-isolating” said Martin Mayer. “The Tory Government’s obsession with giving out lucrative contracts to the private sector has resulted in the failed SERCO contract, which can’t even fulfil its mission to track and trace those in contact with infected people. To be effective, this needs to be rooted in the community using the experience and dedication of our Local Council officials in our Public Health department.”
Note for editors:
Martin Mayer can be contacted on 0776 107 8482
The Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise academic report “Tackling Labour Market Injustice and Organising Workers – The View from a Northern Heartland” was launched online in July. You can download the full report on www.lowpaysheffield and the 4-page Executive Summary is attached the-view-from-a-northern-heartland-executive summary
Sheffield is the UK’s “Low Pay Capital”- which is why Sheffield TUC and the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) have joined forces to fund a Sheffield Union Organiser to help get young low paid workers in exploitative workplaces into a union.