TUC: This is the worst wage squeeze since the Napoleonic War
The Trade Union Congress has slammed the government for presiding over the worst fall in wages for over 200 years.
The TUC have pointed out that average real earnings are still £28 below their 2008 levels, and on current projections will not recover until 2025. That’s a slower rate of recovery than during the Great Depression.
Why have wages fallen so badly when unemployment is so low? Economists tend to point to two trends. Firstly, the new jobs have failed to pick up the slack - they’re poorly paid and insecure, meaning there is chronic underemployment. Added to this, many of them are ‘bogus self employment’ contracts - which means workers aren’t receiving holiday pay, sick pay, redundancy pay, or pension contributions.
The government have certainly facilitated this rise in rubbish jobs, especially through their draconian trade union laws. But its the welfare reforms that are most to blame. According to the government’s own data - 58% of those in poverty are working. This is because these reforms - like the benefit cap, the benefit freeze, and the introduction of universal credit - have reformed a lifeline and forced people into jobs that don’t give them the hours or pay they need to get by.
TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said:
"UK workers are suffering the worst pay squeeze for two centuries. It's taking wages longer to recover from this crash than from the Great Depression and Second World War.
"This means families are struggling to get by. Millions of kids are growing up in poverty despite having parents in work. Mums and dads are skipping meals and turning to dodgy lenders to make ends meet.
"That's why tens of thousands are marching today for a new deal for working people. We need great jobs in every region and nation of the UK, and higher wages for all workers, not just the bosses."