Showing posts with label low wages. Show all posts
Showing posts with label low wages. Show all posts

Friday, December 13, 2013

Workers Pay Drop

A Workers Life
The average earner in Scotland is more than £1,700 worse off compared with three years ago. Data on wages from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that, across the UK, pay rose by 2.1 per cent in the year ending April 2013, to an average of £27,000 a year. But with inflation rising by 2.4 per cent, the figures show wages are continuing to fall behind the cost of living. While the rise in wages is higher than many expected, it is the fifth year running inflation has outpaced wages.

Union leaders in Scotland said full-time earnings had now fallen by 6.2 per cent since 2010, when inflation was factored in. The biggest fall in earnings had been for those earning the least, ensuring that income inequality was increasing, they said. In cash terms, it means the average earner is £1,753 worse off than they would have been if pay had kept pace with inflation.

Scottish Trades Union Congress general-secretary Grahame Smith said: “The ongoing squeeze on real wages is without precedent in modern times and most workers are simply not benefiting from the supposedly strengthening recovery”.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Poor Scots and rich ones

In 2011/12, there were 710,000 (14%) Scots in poor households of which 420,000 working age adults, 140,000 pensioners and 150,000 children were living in relative poverty, 80,000 children were living with combined material deprivation and low income.

Within the last two years, Scottish incomes have gone down from an average of £461 per week to £436.

Welfare measures including changes to eligibility for child tax credits and working tax credits which could, on average, mean that households will become around £700 per year worse off.

Child poverty levels are expected to soar in Scotland over the next few years by at least 50,000, taking the total number of children who live in families that struggle daily to provide to over 280,000.

Ian Marchant, CEO of  Scottish Power had received £1.45m in 2011.The company's annual report showed he earned a basic salary of £870,000, up by £30,000. He also received shares worth more than £1m from the firm's long-term bonus plan. His pension was worth £680,000 - a total package of more than £2.63m 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Struggling Scots

It is not independence most Scot are struggling for - it is to pay their bills.

One in six Scots households are raiding their savings to pay for day-to-day living expenses as they struggle to cope with higher utility, food and fuel bills in the face of another year of frozen wage packets. Almost half of people have admitted in a new poll to regularly delving into their savings last year, with one-third unable to put any money aside in 2012.

 40% of private-sector workers were given a freeze in their 2012 pay settlements. 250,000 council workers are due to see their wages go up by just 1% in April, ending a two-year freeze.

Citizens Advice Scotland  chief executive Margaret Lynch said: "This report shows the grim reality of what life is like for Scotland's families in today's economy...The economic equation is simple: basic living costs are going up all the time while household incomes are frozen, or falling. So people are struggling just to pay for the essentials in life – things like rent or mortgage, fuel and food."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Drop in pay

The real value of average earnings of all employees resident in East Lothian has dropped by 13.3 per cent since April 2008, new research has revealed. 

The Scottish Borders, the drop was 20.3 per cent.

In Scotland as a whole a 9.5 per cent drop in the real value of earnings

Monday, January 07, 2013

Working less - earning less

Professor David Bell, an economic expert, warned MSPs that soaring numbers of Scots have been forced into “under-employment”  and a seismic shift away from full-time to part-time work and the disappearance of overtime have created a culture in which Scots’ lack of work is forcing them to cut back on household spending. Prof Bell’s report to the economy committee revealed the extend of “disguised unemployment” and the new phenomenon of “in-work poverty”.

About half a million Scots are now feared to be either out of work or under-employed. The number of part-time workers, including those who are self-employed, has risen by 74,000 since 2008, alongside a dramatic fall in the hours worked by full-time staff. The under-employment rate stands at over 10 per cent among Scots, with the academic finding there is not enough demand for the labour they are willing to supply. “The ‘Great Recession’ has had an adverse impact on the Scottish labour market,” said the report.

The jobless rise has been less then expected, but there has been a sharp fall in the number of hours that Scots are now working overall. The report says: “Amongst the full-time employed, there has been a reduction in their number and in their average weekly hours, partly as a result of reduced overtime working. “In contrast, there has been an increase in part-time working, though little change in their average weekly hours. “There has also been a trend towards self-employment, particularly part-time self-employment, where weekly hours are extremely low.” Scots struggling in this situation will not show up in official unemployment statistics, because they remain in work.

Margaret Lynch, chief executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “We know that thousands of Scots can’t get work at all, but far too many of those who are in work are struggling in low-paid, temporary and unsatisfying jobs which don’t meet either their aspirations or their bills." She added: “Many people who are under-employed have to top up their income by borrowing, and often turn to high-interest lenders like payday loans, which they can’t repay and which gets them into a spiral of crisis debt.”

Dr James McCormick, Scotland adviser to poverty charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said “What we see now is a significant risk of what we would term ‘in-work poverty’. This is people who are working, they may be doing less then 20 hours a week, but even if they are on a decent hourly rate of pay, they may still find themselves below the poverty threshold, because they’re not working sufficient hours.” Low pay remains a “persistent problem”, Dr McCormick said, and the combination of factors leads to a situation of “disguised unemployment”.

Another report reveals that Scots workers spend £2,000 a year on job-related costs such as food, travel, childcare, equipment and clothes. The average British worker spends one pound from every eight of their disposable income on costs relating to their job.

Friday, December 14, 2012


McDonald's sells more than 75 hamburgers every second. McDonald's' daily customer traffic 62 million, that's about 1 percent of the world's population. McDonald's' $27 billion in revenue makes it the 90th-largest economy in the world. The $8.7 billion in revenue from franchise stores alone, makes McDonald's richer than Mongolia. McDonald's hires around 1 million workers in the US every year ( a 700,000 domestic workforce with 150% turnover rate.) According to company estimates, one in every eight American workers has been employed by McDonald's. Americans alone consume one billion pounds of beef at McDonald's in a year – five and a half million head of cattle. McDonald's has 761,000 employees worldwide, that's more than the population of Luxembourg. From 2011 to 2013, McDonald's plans to open one restaurant every day in China. McDonald's is the world's largest distributor of toys, with one included in 20% of all sales. McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner receives $8.75 million a year. Twenty years ago the CEO’s compensation was about 230 times that of a full-time worker paid the federal minimum wage now its 580 times.  Profit growth for period 2007 - 2011 was 135%. Dividends and stock buybacks last fiscal year $6 billion, the equivalent of $14,286 per restaurant worker employed by the company.

But guess what, there's an even bigger and more important company.

In  2012, Wal-Mart registered approximately $444 billion in sales, which is $20 billion more than Austria's GDP. If Walmart were a country, it would be the 26th largest economy in the world. Walmart has more employees worldwide — 2.2 million — than the population of Houston. The mega-retailer employs 1.4 million people in the U.S. alone. f Wal-Mart was an army, it would have the second largest military in the world, behind China. Wal-Mart is bigger than Home Depot, Kroger, Target, Sears, Costco, and K-Mart combined. The average family of four spends over $4,000 a year at Walmart. One of every four dollars Americans spend on groceries is spent at Walmart. Each week, Walmart serves more than 200 million customers at more than 10,400 stores in 27 countries. In 2010, CEO Michael Duke's annual salary of $35 million earned him more in an hour than a full-time employee makes in an entire year. The Walton family has given away about 2 percent of its net worth to charity — Bill Gates is giving away 48 percent of his net worth and Warren Buffet 78 percent of his net worth. An additional Walmart Supercenter per 100,000 residents increases the obesity rate by 2.4 percent. Roughly 4,700 (about 90 percent) of international stores operate under a banner other than Walmart, including Walmex in Mexico, Asda in the UK, Seiyu in Japan, and Best Price in India. Dividends and stock buybacks last fiscal year $11.3 billion. The Walton family has  some $93 billion in wealth, just under 0.14% of all US wealth, more than bottom 30% of Americans (49 million)

The total number of people employed in the U.S. at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and McDonald’s and Yum Brands restaurants exceeds the entire 2.7 million population of Chicago. Net income at those three companies has jumped by at least 22 percent from four years ago. Shareholders, not employees, have reaped the rewards. At the same time, companies have formed an effort to freeze the minimum wage, whose purchasing power is 20 percent less than in 1968. Minimum-wage earners have less power to demand higher pay because so many adults are willing to take low-wage positions.

 25% of Americans (or bottom 75 million) don’t have any net wealth at all. Their debts are higher than their assets.

The 1.2 million households whose incomes put them in the top 1 percent of the U.S. saw their earnings increase 5.5 percent last year, according to census estimates. Earnings fell 1.7 percent for the 97 million households in the bottom 80 percent -- those who made less than $101,583.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Facts, statistics and lies

Data from the Office for National Statistics' (ONS) 2012 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings shows the median weekly earnings of Scots, at £497.60, were higher in any part of the UK outside London and the southeast, growing 2.6% year on year. This figure represents a real terms fall, in light of CPI inflation of 3% during that period. Women's waages were significantly under at a 0.6% increase, the slowest rise in the UK other than in northeast England, where women's wages actually fell by 0.5%.

David Bell
, professor of economics at Stirling University, warned that the rise may be a symptom of an increased loss of lower-paid jobs, pushing the median figure further up the scale. He said: "What might have happened is that a lot of the people who lost their jobs in Scotland are at the bottom end of the wage distribution, and if falling employment is concentrated in the bottom, that moves the median up. Our labour market performance hasn't been that great lately and the unemployment trend has been going in the wrong direction for a few months. Paradoxically, rising median rates may be consistent with that. It doesn't necessarily mean that the economy is booming. I don't think there is evidence of great upward wage pressure in the Scottish economy."
STUC assistant secretary Stephen Boyd explained "Most workers are still experiencing what [Bank of England governor] Mervyn King has described as the longest period of falling real wages since the 1920s."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Exposing the ethics of the Co-op

On Thursday 22nd a dozen people, including members of benefit claimants' groups Black Triangle and the Crutch Collective, Clydeside Industrial Workers Of The World, Glasgow Anarchist Federation, Glasgow Solidarity Federation as well as other individuals took part in the hour long picket of the Co-Op Bank and supermarket on the same street in central Glasgow.

They gave out leaflets to Co-Op customers and the hundreds of people going pass on their way home from work. The leaflet highlighted the Co-Op's four year occupational health contract with Atos. Atos continue to make huge profits by continuing to assess most sick and disabled benefit claimants as fit for work, ignoring contrary medical evidence, to comply with Government targets for benefit cuts. The cuts are being imposed to make the poor pay again for the latest crisis in capitalism caused by the rich. They asked people to contact the Co-Op to tell the company, that sells itself as ethical, that they will be losing their custom until they cancel their contract with Atos.

Most interest came from older women who perhaps know from experience what the Co-Op is really about. Maybe they know the reality of the Co-Op's claim that they have always been ethical, because they have always provided affordable prices to those in need. In past generations the Co-Op mostly employed women. Their exploitative employment practices are still the same as any other business. Historically the Co-Op has played a significant role in the daily lives of many working class people. But it's contribution to working class emancipation has been marginal at best and at worst has added to illusion that such an aim can be achieved within the capitalist system. Like any other business it is open to the pressures that come with the fluctuations of the marketplace and has made workers redundant when the markets are down. Like any other bosses the Co-Op management have made older workers redundant, using the excuse that they would be incapable of coping with the introduction of new technology, that was never introduced, because managers had nothing better to do than manage workers like cogs in a machine.

Co-Op management tried to placate the protesters with more empty words about ethics, rather than taking action against Atos. They have refused to rule out Atos from the bidding process for their new occupational contract, that starts next year, despite the unethical behaviour of Atos being well documented. If the Co-Op were interested in ethics they would have already publicly rejected an Atos bid. Their decision on who to award the new contract to will be based primarily on cheapness even though the profitable Co-Op do not have to do this out of economic necessity.

Atos and the police have been monitoring anti-Atos activity to try to manage dissent towards ineffectiveness. Now the Co-Op are up to it as well to help their Atos partners. The communications from Co-Op management, the hiring of extra security staff and the ludicrous number of police present for the picket show that the Co-Op are extremely worried about their ethical image, no matter how fake, even from the dent that can be caused to it by a relatively small group and one action. We must be doing something right. Just imagine what actions against the Atos contract by larger groups in more that one place could do.

From here

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Observation on poverty

Low pay and reduced job security are key outcomes of the recession. Sociologists have even coined a term for the growing number of people - many of them agency workers - who live this blighted existence. They call them the 'precariat'. The precariat are workers likely to be laid off, working part-time for low wages and turning up when they are asked. Being in the precariat means the fear of being pitched deeper into it and the likelihood your children will continue in it

Many are found in agency jobs in what was once the public sector - cleaning and caring.

A report from the Rowntree Foundation is yet another reminder that working hard does not necessarily keep a family out of poverty. Half of children living below the Government's official poverty line have at least one parent working. 69% of these children, who generally get free school meals, leave school without the five GCSEs which are generally necessary for a reasonably-paid job and are unlikely to get into higher education.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A living wage or no wages?

According to research by Citizens Advice Scotland workers in Scotland are routinely being exploited by employers who are refusing to pay the minimum wage. The problem is particularly prevalent among young employees, while hotels, restaurants and cafes are the worst offenders.

Susan McPhee, head of policy at CAS, said: “The minimum wage has been law for more than 10 years, but a significant number of employers are refusing to pay it, and as a result workers are exploited on illegal wages. All political parties* accept the principle of a minimum wage, but it seems some employers believe the law is optional. Our experience shows many workers are unaware of their rights or lack confidence in how to fight for them.”

The National Minimum Wage was made UK law in April 1999 and is currently £6.08 an hour for those aged over 21. It lowers to £4.98 for those between the ages of 18 and 21. For 16 and 17-year-olds, the threshold is £3.68. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has the powers to issue a notice of underpayment if an employer is found to be flouting the legal threshold, and employers face a fine to HMRC of 50% of the total underpayment that has occurred since April 2009. The minimum penalty is £100 and the maximum £5000.
* Not all. The Socialist Party doesn't.

We have nothing against workers struggling for and getting higher wages if they can. We favour this, even if we don’t like the term “living wage” any more than “fair wage" and even if we think that ideally this should be tied to struggling to abolish the wages system altogether. What we criticise is to increase the present legal minimum wage and call the result a “living wage”.

First Minister Alex Salmond has spoken in favour of a “living wage” of £7.15 per hour for Holyrood employees. Presumably Salmond has in mind is a wage that would allow a worker to afford decent housing, enough proper food, new clothes, to go on holiday and run a car. Getting employers to increase the wages of anyone paid less £ 7.15 is easier said than done. The unions haven’t been able to do it. Like all reforms of capitalism the minimum wage legislation leaves intact the basic mechanism wherein a small handful live of the surplus value produced by the working class. However even by comparison with previous capitalist reforms this piece of legislation has proved woefully unsuccessful. We pointed out that this was just another empty vote-catching promise which, even if implemented, wouldn’t have had the expected effects.

But let’s assume for a moment that a law forcing employers to pay a higher minimum wage was passed. What would happen?

First, some employers would go bankrupt. Others would withdraw their capital from producing certain goods or services, so their price would rise. Eventually this would stabilise at a new, higher level at which employers would be able to make a profit even when paying the increased minimum wage. So the cost of living would go up, including for workers on the minimum wage. Second, given the increased labour costs, the introduction of previously unused labour-saving machinery would become cheaper vis-à-vis employing living labour. It is generally accepted that higher wages does lead employers to introduce machinery. Employers would do this. So there’d be job losses and unemployment, particularly amongst the unskilled, would grow.

Nor did Marx think much of such demands as “fixing the minimum wage by law”, which was one of the reform demands of the French Workers Party he had a hand in helping to set up in 1880. He wrote, referring to the proposer of this: “I told him: ‘If the French proletariat is still so childish as to require such bait, it is not worth while drawing up any program whatever.' "

Like all reforms of capitalism the minimum wage legislation leaves intact the basic mechanism wherein a small handful live of the surplus value produced by the working class. Socialism is not about redistributing income and wealth from the rich to the poor, but about establishing a society that would not be divided into rich and poor. To adapt Marx, workers should replace the demand for a “Living Wage” by the revolutionary demand for the “Abolition of the Wages System”.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

more pay cuts loom

About 3% of the UK's workforce have seen basic pay fall in the past year and those in the construction sector have been hardest hit, it said, with 10% in that industry seeing pay fall according to this report .Thousands of workers have negotiated lower pay packets hoping to avoid redundancy.
"We're predicting next year that we're going to see more organisations making more and more redundancies." said the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Monday, January 07, 2008

Keir Hardie on Migrant Labour

Socialist Courier has previously de-bunked the Keir Hardie myth of his anti-war credentials here and now it is time to dismiss him as a supporter of the international working class and expose his Scots racism .

James Keir Hardie in 1889 said said :-

"Dr. Johnson said God made Scotland for Scotchmen, and I would keep it so" .

Speaking of the Poles at Glengarnock, he said "their habits are very filthy, six or seven males occupying a one-roomed house, and having women to cook for them"

He suggested that the employment of foreigners by British employers should be prohibited, unless they were political exiles or had fled from religious persecution or if they came from countries where the wage rates were the same as in Britain.

Instead of directing his wrath at the capitalist class which exploits and takes advantage of the lack of working class unity , Hardie simply parrots the commonly held mis-conception that it is the poor unfortunate immigrant who is responsible for wage cuts .

Members of the capitalist class don't stay put. They travel freely round the world, from London to Paris, from grouse moor to ski slope, from Caribbean island to Mediterranean cruise, from the chateau in Switzerland to the ranch in Arizona. And no-one dreams of telling them that they can't. Like many laws enacted by the ruling class, restrictions on the crossing of borders really only hit at members of the working class. The apologists for capitalism who try to foment ill-feeling towards "foreigners" landing here, whether they come to escape persecution, or to obtain slightly higher wages, never attack those many members of the upper class who swan about the world as if there were no such thing as state boundaries.