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Monday, 24 November 2014

Letter on Labour and wages (Published readers letter)

Lee Sherriff rightly calls for higher wages and less inequality, but a Labour government will give neither, too afraid of the rich and powerful whose sole interests they now represent.

Britain is the only industrialised country where inequality has worsened since 2000, with the richest 10%  increasing their share of  national wealth from 51% to 54%.

Since the recession the richest 1,000 have doubled their wealth to £519bn, equivalent to 2/3 the annual earnings of the entire workforce. Top CEOs now “earn” as much as 170 average workers. The richest 5 families now own more than 20% of the population.

Meanwhile, the real wages of average earners has fallen 10%. The longest and deepest period of real wage cuts since the 1860s has left the typical worker £50 a week worse off. 

This is the first decade when absolute poverty has risen, affecting 8.7m adults and 4.1m children. But even the government’s commission on social mobility castigates ALL political parties for having secretly abandoned their legal obligation to halve child poverty by 2020 – just too dishonest to admit it. 1in5 children in Carlisle suffer poverty, but Labour will extend the Tory freeze on child benefit even longer.

Its chair, Alan Milburn, even shows that Labour’s pledge of an £8 minimum wage by 2020 (!) is 23p lower than at the current rate of increase. By contrast, the TUC has adopted the Socialist Party’s demand for a £10 an hour minimum. 

Everyone is now “against” inequality – even the IMF, CBI and Institute of Directors, whose members enjoyed a 21% salary increase this year – but none are willing to act. Here are two litmus tests for Lee Sherriff:

The Labour-led local government employers have just rejected a modest demand for a  £1 an hour wage rise and offered the Labour-led unions Unison, Unite and GMB a rotten deal which would extend another real wage cut until 2016. Will she condemn that?

And Ed Miliband has even refused to support the low paid women care workers in his Doncaster seat exploited by an American private equity company which cut their wages by 35% when “caring” was privatised. Will she give them her public support?

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