The ‘national living wage’ (NLW) falls short of providing a decent standard of income to low-paid staff and will need to increase sharply to offset rising rents and slowing wages growth, according to campaigners against low pay. The £7.20 an hour NLW for the over 25s, introduced in April, was failing to provide the basic needs of low-paid households.
The commission said the fall in take-home pay across the country after the 2008 banking collapse, and slow wages growth in the past eight years, had left millions of workers struggling to make ends meet. Wages need to increase at a faster rate than rising rents, petrol prices and heating bills to continue closing the gap with higher-paid workers, the commission said.
Gavin Kelly, chair of the commission, said: “This review marks the next phase of the living wage campaign for decent pay and provides a robust and up-to-date analysis of the wage needed for people to meet their everyday costs in London and the UK. The findings make clear that the living wage benchmark in the capital is going to have to rise in the years ahead if people are to be able to get by. With living standards set for sluggish growth in the years to come, the need for employers to pay the independent living wage rates is stronger than ever.”
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said UK workers were still paid less than before the financial crisis in 2007 after the largest fall in wages of any developed country except Greece.
While workers must never cease to defend and increase their wage levels, it is always important to remember that this is necessarily always a defensive struggle and that as Marx suggested we should:
“Instead of the conservative motto: “A fair day's wage for a fair day's work!” they ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword: “Abolition of the wages system!"