Wednesday, September 11, 2013

#TUC13 Congress - Fair Pay Fringe with Unions21

"What can unions and policy makers do to make wages fairer?"

Monday lunchtime fringe by Unions21 and Fabians on this key issue.

Meeting was chaired by Chris Weavers (middle) who pointed out in the last 2 years 93% of all British workers have had below inflation pay rises (i.e. pay cuts).

First speaker Liam Byrne MP who wanted us to "batter and punish this government" for what they have been presiding over in last 2 years. The problem is the shortage of work. Big mistake of Tories to cut corporation tax by £6 billion? For what? Nothing invested? Nor more paid out in pay? £480 billion lie doing nothing in company bank accounts. Small business should get this tax cut. Bringing forward capital investment has recently been recommended by those left wing nutters at the IMF.  

Nicola Smith from TUC was next who told us real wages have been falling for the the longest period since the 1870s. She made the important point that wage growth in UK is measured on "mean" pay levels (the average - which includes all very high earners who distort wage growth) rather than using a "medium" measure as other countries. This means that the cuts in wages may be even worse for the low paid than we think.

Ged Nichols, General Secretary of Accord spoke about when he started working in finance the wages were not very good, but you had final salary pensions subsidised mortgages and a career structure. Now you just get the poor pay. He argued that there is no evidence that Performance Related Pay works. Customers have become "commodifed" and this resulted in the mis-selling scandlas. He wondered why no senior managers had been disciplined for PPI scandal

Equity General Secretary Christine Payne wanted the law to be changed over minium wage so that the union could take enforcement action on behalf of members. Many actors are too frightened of victimisation if they take make named complaints against employers for failing to pay the minimum wage.

My question was about how a living wage is not enough and we need "fair pay" which included a living pensions and sickness benefits and how we need wage councils to get fair pay in many sectors who can afford more than a living wage rate. Which as you can imagine no-one on this panel disagreed with.

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