Fair Pay Fortnight took place from 24 March to 6 April 2014. You can find out what happened at: www.fairpayfortnight.org
Fair pay must not slip off the political agenda
Today marks the end of Fair Pay Fortnight.
Over the last two weeks around 90 events have taken place throughout Britain, ranging from wage summits to street stalls. At workplaces across England and Wales union members have marked the fortnight by sending us their ‘fair pay’ selfies and by holding lunch time and evening events.
Prominent living wage employers, MPs, young workers, policy experts, NHS workers and even the Bishop of Birmingham have contributed blogs, all making the case for fair pay and better jobs. We have heard how unions are driving up pay in the private sector, why paying the living wage is good for business, and the personal experiences of those who are affected by low pay.
Fair Pay Fortnight has been covered extensively in the national and regional media and allowed us to highlight the stories of workers feeling the squeeze. People like Bryony Hamblin, a 21 year-old USDAW rep who can’t earn enough to move out of home, who spends nearly half her wages on travel.
Bryony was featured in the Observer, interviewed for Radio Wales and addressed politicians at the Welsh Assembly about the pay challenges facing young people.
Fair Pay Fortnight has allowed us to reach out to the general public in a number of different ways. As well as collecting tonnes of signatures for our fair pay petition our giant cheques, depicting how much workers have lost in real wages since 2010, were used on high-streets throughout England and Wales. And our short animated film on falling living standards, brilliantly produced by our Welsh office, was played dozens of times to shoppers on Swansea City Centre’s big screen.
Fair Pay Fortnight has been a great experience to be involved in and has been supported fantastically by unions at a national, regional and local level. It is essential that we use the momentum it has created to build for our national Britain Needs a Pay Rise demonstration in London this October.
Fair pay must not be allowed to slip off the political agenda between now and the election. Research published by the TUC over the last two weeks shows the scale of the challenge we face.
In some parts of the country more than two in five workers are paid less than the living wage (see our UK Living Wage map). And while wages for some workers in the private sector may now just about be beating inflation, it will be years before they recover their pre-crash spending power.
Employees in a range of industries, including manufacturing, retail, hospitality and construction – where annual pay is, on average, £2,000 lower than it was four years ago – could wait until 2025 before their salaries return to 2007 levels.
Construction workers are earning an average of £88 a week less than they were before the financial crisis seven years ago. Manufacturing workers’ wages are an average £33 a week less than in 2007, and in retail, wholesale, hotels and restaurants, employees are £25 a week worse off, with their earnings not predicted to recover until 2024.
This is why we argue that the only real recovery is one in which ordinary people share and why we must make our October demonstration a day to remember.