The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has unveiled a disturbing trend in the UK job market, indicating a substantial decline in real wages since the financial crisis, with most workers still grappling with incomes that have not recovered to pre-2008 levels. The figures show that the average worker would be approximately £125 a week better off had their earnings increased at the same rate as they did between 1997 and 2010.
Alarming as it is, these revelations don’t end there. The data also exposes the Tories’ role in overseeing a drop in real weekly pay by £4.50 from 2010 to 2023. In stark contrast, in the 13 years prior to Conservative governance, real weekly pay experienced a robust growth of £99. This stark contrast between the previous administration and the current one paints a grim picture of the Tories’ approach to workers’ well-being.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has highlighted the transformative potential of Labour’s proposed “New Deal for Working People,” which aims to make work more rewarding, secure, and equitable. Commenting on the ONS annual pay statistics, TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak stressed the glaring disparity in living standards. He noted, “While living standards have nosedived for the vast majority of workers, those at the top have been largely insulated. Real pay in the City is above its 2008 level. But it’s a different story for most other workers, with pay packets still worth less than 15 years ago.”
Nowak went on to emphasize the exceptional nature of this situation in modern history and attributed it to a failure on the part of the Conservative Party. “The Conservatives are the party of pay cuts. Working people deserve better,” he declared.
Gender Pay Gap
The latest gender pay figures have also raised concerns, indicating that the gender pay gap currently stands at 14.3%, and at current rates of progress, it will persist until 2044. TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak expressed deep concern, saying, “Our economy isn’t working for women. At this rate, it will take decades to close the gender pay gap.”
He called for more robust action, including legal requirements for companies to disclose their strategies for closing the gender pay gap, with potential fines for non-compliance. Additionally, Nowak stressed the urgent need to address issues in the childcare and social care systems, as women continue to bear the brunt of caring responsibilities. He underlined the importance of flexible, affordable, and accessible childcare, as well as addressing the social care crisis through sectoral collective bargaining.
New Deal for Working People
The TUC’s advocacy for government intervention to tackle the gender pay gap aligns with Labour’s commitment to deliver a “New Deal for Working People.” Labour’s proposal includes significant changes to the employment landscape, such as banning zero-hours contracts, providing day one rights for all workers, introducing pay gap reporting for ethnicity and disability, strengthening collective bargaining, and bolstering flexible working rights.
In summary, the ONS ASHE figures reveal a concerning decline in workers’ real wages since the financial crash, with the Tories presiding over a drop in real weekly pay. Labour’s New Deal for Working People offers a vision for a more equitable and secure future, aimed at addressing the gender pay gap and making work fairer for all.