“The government’s furlough scheme is leaving millions of low-paid workers on less than this basic minimum pay… This crisis should not be paid for on the backs of low income workers.”Richard Burgon MP
Join my campaign to ensure no furloughed workers is paid less than the national minimum wage – by Richard Burgon.
No-one should ever be paid less than the National Minimum Wage.
Since its introduction by a Labour government in 1999, the minimum wage has been a lifeline to households across Britain. It was a crucial step in the fight against low pay.
Of course, at just £8.72 per hour for those aged 25 and over (and much less for younger workers), the current minimum wage levels are totally inadequate.
While we need to step up campaigning for it to be raised to at least £10 per hour to cover real living costs, we also need to fight attacks on the principle of the minimum wage.
The government’s furlough scheme is leaving millions of low-paid workers on less than this basic minimum pay.
New data from the Office for National Statistics shows that over two million workers have been paid less than the National Minimum Wage this year. That’s nearly five times as many as in 2019.
In every part of our country the number of workers paid less than the minimum wage has increased significantly.
My area, Yorkshire and the Humber, has seen the number of people being paid less than minimum wage soar to 187,000 people, up from 36,000 in 2019. Over 8% of all workers are now being paid less than the minimum anyone should ever receive.
That’s totally unacceptable. It’s called the minimum wage for a reason and the Government needs to act quickly to ensure that nobody is paid less than it.
But when I first raised this important issue in the House of Commons the Chancellor of the Exchequer responded by suggesting workers could seek additional employment. The next time I raised it, the answer wasn’t any better.
The lack of a minimum wage floor in the Government’s furlough scheme is forcing families all across the country into further poverty through no fault of their own. How can people be expected to live on less than the already-low minimum wage when their rent, bills and food prices haven’t fallen?
Many sectors hit hardest by the pandemic, such as hospitality and leisure, have high proportions of workers paid the minimum wage.
This crisis should not be paid for on the backs of low income workers.
That’s why I have launched a campaign calling on the Government to introduce a wage floor in the furlough scheme to make sure that no worker gets paid less than the National Minimum Wage.
Alongside 30 Labour MPs, I recently wrote to the Chancellor asking him to make sure that no furloughed worker is paid less than the National Minimum Wage.
As part of this campaign, I have also put down a motion in Parliament calling on the Government to make this change to the furlough scheme to protect the lowest-paid workers.
Now, to show the public support for this I have launched a petition calling on the Government to take this urgent action.
The Government must not be allowed to undermine the minimum wage at this time of national crisis.
I hope you can take 30 seconds to sign my petition to introduce a wage floor in the furlough scheme so no furloughed worker is paid less than the minimum wage and raise this issue in your Constituency Labour Party and your trade union branch.
With your support I believe we can put pressure on the Government to reverse this decision and protect the incomes of workers on the Minimum Wage during this pandemic.