#GE2017: Why all the political parties should be talking about pay, jobs and rights
What’s at stake for working people in this election?
Economic issues increasingly risk being the dog that didn’t bark in this election. The 2015 campaign saw a fierce debate about the figures, whether on the scale of the cost-of-living crisis or the size of the deficit, at the centre of parties’ messages. But in 2017, most of the numbers appear to have gone missing from the mainstream political debate.
The pay squeeze is still hurting
It’s not that there’s nothing to talk about. As our new analysis sets out today, on current projections, Britain is set to stay well at the bottom of the league table for wage growth across OECD countries (you can find out what that means for your wages here too).
Real wages are already falling, and British workers are in the midst of the longest pay squeeze in living memory. For workers in the public sector, the picture looks even worse, with midwives, for example, set to be over £3,000 worse off in real terms by 2020 than they were in 2015.
An unbalanced economy
Britain’s terrible pay performance is just one sign of an economy that’s not delivering the decent jobs working people need. Too often your chance of a job depends on where you live, and on current trends, by 2022 40 per cent of all economic activity will be concentrated in London and the South East.
Growing insecurity at work
And it’s not just jobs and pay where we need a new approach. Unlike in other countries, where insecure work is falling while employment grows, the rules to protect working people in the UK haven’t kept pace with how the world of work has changed, leaving too many people at the beck and call of bad bosses. On current trends, 290,000 more people could be trapped in insecure jobs by 2022, leaving 3.5m people in jobs without decent rights and security, whether that’s zero hours contracts, low paid self-employment, or agency work.
These are the workers who perhaps have most to lose in the issue which has dominated the election – the outcome of the Brexit deal the next government needs to negotiate. As new research by the Work Foundation for the TUC sets out, if the UK government seeks to compete in a race to the bottom on workers’ rights, it’s low paid workers who are most likely to see their terms and conditions downgraded.
We need a new deal
It’s clear we need a Brexit deal that puts workers’ rights at its heart. But alongside that deal, we need a new deal for working people, giving people the chance of a decent job with decent pay, wherever they live. Because in the next parliament, it’s the economic questions that are sure to come back and bite whoever is in charge.