The rise of the low-pay workforce — when seven jobs just isn’t enough

According to a recent report from Bradford University the UK is experiencing record levels of employment, with over 32m people in work. Well done the Conservative Government then!

But many workers and their families continue to struggle to survive financially — it’s estimated 5.5m workers are paid below the Real Living Wage, which is set at a level at which people can afford to ‘live’, based on the minimum income standard. That, basically means 5.5 million people, almost 10% of the third richest country in the world are in poverty. Well done the Conservative Government then!

But what’s missing from these statistics are those people who have to work in more than one low paid job to make ends meet. The study interviewed low paid workers in multiple forms of employment in the regions of Yorkshire and North-East England. They expected to speak to workers with two or three jobs, but were surprised and alarmed to find a number with four, five, six and even seven different jobs.

All of the workers they spoke to had multiple jobs as they were struggling to make a living, and some made use of food banks. Ages ranged from late-teens to 60s and education levels varied: a minority had no qualifications, but many had NVQs, GCSEs, O-levels, A-levels, good quality degrees and even masters degrees. So education, education, education isn’t a factor in poverty. Of course, a senior member of the Government says that the rise in the use of food banks “… is rather uplifting and shows what a good, compassionate country we are.”

The rise of multiple jobs is due to the creation of a deregulated ‘flexible’ labour market. The TUC, which comprises the majority of the UK’s major trade unions, has also reported that only one in 40 jobs created since the recession is full-time. Well done the Conservative Government then!

Additional factors include the proliferation of part-time, zero hours contracts and temporary and casual contracts. Many of the people were experiencing job insecurity and instability, and having to work for employment agencies. So it’s all good then!

Let’s get this straight. Poverty is no longer a Third World issue. Until we elect a government which has the ordinary person as a priority nothing will change.

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