Nearly One Million Workers STILL Can’t Find Full-Time Jobs, Says TUC
The number of people working fewer hours than they desire remains nearly a million higher than before the financial crisis, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) claims.
An analysis by the TUC exposes the true crisis of underemployment in Britain today, revealing the shocking number of part-time workers who can’t find full-time jobs.
Underemployment has risen sharply since the recession, reaching a staggering 3.4 million in early 2014 – compared to 2.3 million in 2008.
Despite falling slightly in the last year to just under 3.3 million by early 2015, underemployment is still more than 900,000 higher than pre-recession levels.
TUC’s findings come ahead of the latest unemployment data, which will be published by the Office for National Statistics later this week. This is expected to show a continued improvement in the employment rate. However, the TUC warns that ‘too many poor quality jobs’ have left the issue of tackling underemployment ‘stuck in the slow lane’.
Controversial zero-hours contracts are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to low-paid and insecure jobs, according to a new report published today.
An analysis by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) shows that in addition to the 700,000 people on zero-hours contracts, a further 820,000 workers are underemployed – working between 0 and 19 hours a week.
The TUC says that whilst zero-hours contracts have featured heavily in the news, underemployment is blighting the lives of “hundreds of thousands of workers” struggling to make ends meet.
Workers on ‘short-hours contracts’ are typically paid a much lower hourly wage than other workers, the TUC says. The hourly rate for a short-hours worker is just £8.40, compared to an overall average for all employees of £13.20 an hour.
According to the TUC, short-hours contracts “give too much power to the employer” and allows them to escape having to pay National Insurance for their employees.
Like zero-hours contracts, workers on short-hours contracts can be offered as little as one hour paid work each week and have to compete with colleagues for extra hours.
Workers in the retail sector are the hardest hit by low-paid contracts. Nearly 250,000 people working in shops, supermarkets, warehouses and garages are trapped on short-hours – 29% of all underemployed workers. This compares to 16% in the education sector, 14% in food services and 12% of health and social care workers.
The TUC’s report shows that women account for nearly three-quarters (71.5%) of all workers trapped on short-hours contracts.
Zero-hours and short-hours contracts, along with low-paid and bogus self-employment, have reduced tax revenues and are harming the UK economy, according to the TUC.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Zero-hours contracts are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to low-paid, insecure work.
“Hundreds of thousands of other workers find themselves trapped on short-hours contracts that simply do not guarantee enough hours for them to make ends meet.
“Like zero-hours contracts, short-hour contracts give too much power to the employer. Bosses have an incentive to offer low wages and fewer hours to get out of paying national insurance.
“Without more decent jobs, people will continue to have to survive off scraps of work and UK productivity will continue to tank.”
The report also draws attention to a sharp increase in self-employment, which accounts for 31% of the net rise in employment since 2010. Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that average earning for self-employed people have fallen dramatically by 22% since 2008/09.
New figures published by Eurostat place the UK at 23rd out of 28 for its record on underemployment.
The figures show that UK underemployment is 31% higher than the EU average, which the TUC says is a sign of the Government’s failure to create high-quality jobs.
Frances O’Grady said:
“These figures show what a bad time British people are having at work compared with their European neighbours.
“We have a fragile recovery built on pumped-up house prices, instead of the strong foundation of good quality jobs with decent hours and wages.
“The current approach just isn’t delivering enough high quality jobs to meet demand and it’s leaving too many families struggling to get by on scraps of work.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 27 Apr 2015
More than 250,000 workers in the UK are being cheated out of the legal national minimum wage by unscrupulous employers, a damning new report reveals.
A new report from the Trade Union Congress (TUC), National Minimum Wage – Keeping up the Pressure, reveals that while the majority of employers are ‘happy’ to pay up, others are finding new ways to escape paying the legal minimum wage.
The findings may prove to be deeply embarrassing for the Tory-led coalition government, who claim to be “making work pay” and on the side of “hardworking people”.
> I doubt they are capable of feeling embarrasment or shame…
The national minimum wage rate is currently set at £6.50 per hour for workers over the age of 21, falling to £5.13 for 18-20 year olds, £3.79 for under 18’s and £2.73 per hour for apprentices.
However, the TUC says a minority of employers are adopting a ‘wide range of scams’ to avoid paying up: including under-recording hours, bogus self-employment, misusing interns and volunteers, charging for uniforms, not paying for travel between work sites during the working day, clocking workers off when there are no customers in the store or cafe, and employers vanishing to avoid minimum wage fines only to reappear under another name.
Apprentices are particularly likely to be underpaid, with figures suggesting as many as 120,000 people on apprenticeships are paid less than the legal requirement.
TUC says enforcement of the national minimum wage needs to ‘continuously improved’ and stronger punishments for employers who flout the law need to introduced, such as increasing the maximum fine from £5,000 to £75,000.
The report also calls for the appointment of 100 more HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) enforcement officers, the naming and shaming of employers who fail to pay at least the national minimum wage and better guidance for businesses.
The TUC has outlined a 10-point programme the next government should adopt to improve minimum wage enforcement:
- Restore the budget for raising awareness about the minimum wage to £1 million.
- Hire 100 more HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) enforcement officers
- Better official guidance on the minimum wage so that employers know their responsibilities.
- Create legal gateways so that HMRC can share information about enforcement with local authorities and the transport regulatory authorities
- Name and shame all non-payers.
- Government to guarantee arrears if employer goes bankrupt or simply vanishes.
- Adopt a prosecution strategy targeted towards the worst offenders and increase maximum fine from £5,000 to £75,000.
- More targeted enforcement for high-risk sectors.
- Make government funding for training apprentices dependent on employers paying the minimum wage, and create a duty for training providers to check that the minimum wage is paid.
- Promote collective bargaining so that trade unions can deal with more minimum wage problems themselves.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“Failing to pay the minimum wage is an antisocial act that squeezes those workers who have the least. There should be no hiding place for cheapskate bosses who try to cheat their workers out of the minimum wage.
“We must engage in a constant battle to ensure that every worker gets at least the minimum. It is clear that some employers are actively looking for new ways not to pay even the legal minimum.
“There should be a broad consensus between political parties, good employers and trade unions that the minimum wage must always be enforced effectively.
“We urge everyone to support the TUC’s plan for ensuring continuous improvement to the minimum wage system.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 08 Jan 2015
Workers in the UK are experiencing the longest and most severe squeeze in earnings since records began in Victorian times, say the TUC.
New analysis published by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) found that workers have been forced to endure seven consecutive years of falling wages – a historical first.
TUC say that even the pay squeeze during the great depression in the 1920’s was shorter.
Current earnings have declined by over 8% since 2007 and despite the supposed economic upturn workers still face a “financial misery”, with wages lagging well behind prices – creating a cost of living crisis.
TUC compared the situation faced by workers in Britain today with other economic slumps – 1865-67, 1874-78, 1921-23 and 1976-77. During each of these periods wages fell for two years before earnings growth restored, apart from 1874 – 78 when there was four years of falling real earnings.
Seven years after economic slumps in the 1860’s and 1970’s, wages were back above their pre-recession levels. Although earnings went into ‘free-fall’ after the downturns of the 1870’s and 1920’s, the TUC analysis found that today’s squeeze in earnings is ‘twice as deep’ than the worst of the two periods (8% compared to 4% in the 1920s).
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“It’s shocking that even the most infamous periods of pay depression in the last 150 years pale into comparison when looking at the current seven-year collapse in earnings.
“The government says the economy is growing again, but there’s no evidence of any recovery in ordinary workers’ pay packets. Across the country people are struggling to make ends meet, as their pay lags behind prices and there seems to be no end in sight to their financial misery.
“Vast swathes of Britain are long overdue a pay rise. That’s why we expect to see tens of thousands join our march next weekend, calling on politicians and employers to help them share in the recovery and start spending again without fear of falling into debt.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 12 Oct 2014
Trade Union Congress (TUC) Media Release:
Unemployment rates and levels of joblessness are higher today than before the recession in every region and nation of the UK and across all working age groups – suggesting that the economy is still less healthy than it was before the recession, the TUC warns today (Monday) ahead of the publication of the latest jobs figures later this week.
Northern Ireland has the biggest gap between its current and pre-recession unemployment rates. Across Northern Ireland unemployment is currently running at 6.9 per cent, 68 per higher today than six years ago, when it was 4.1 per cent. The unemployment rates in Scotland and Yorkshire and the Humber are 50 per cent higher today than before the recession.
The biggest unemployment gap by age group is among young people, with the number of unemployed 16-24 year olds 167,000 higher than six years ago. In the West Midlands for example, there are currently 20,000 more young people out of work than there were six years ago.
In most parts of the UK the jobs gaps for young people are higher than for any other age group. Unemployment levels are only lower now than six years ago amongst 16-24 year olds in the East Midlands and 35-49 year olds in Wales.
Much of the debate around unemployment has been about the rate falling below seven per cent – the trigger set by the Bank of England for possible interest rate rises. However, with over two million people still out of work – half a million higher than before the recession – and many more under-employed it remains far too early for the Bank of England to be considering an interest rate rise, says the TUC.
The number of unemployed people across the UK is still far in excess of pre-recession levels, in spite of the recent upturn in the jobs market, says the TUC. While the size of the economy is likely to return to pre-recession levels soon, unemployment levels are recovering much more slowly and the analysis shows that more needs to be done to get people back into work.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The recent upturn in the economy has prompted lots of speculation about an increase in interest rates. Those hawks that are keen for interest rates to rise have forgotten that unemployment is still over two million.
“In some parts of the UK, unemployment is 50 per cent higher than it was before the recession. The talk in the City and around Westminster may be about a fast growing economy but the recovery still feels a good way off for millions of people still desperate for work across the rest of the country.
“The government should be doing more to get unemployment down in every part of the UK. High levels of youth joblessness are particularly concerning. The growing talk of an interest rise is a worrying distraction from this far bigger economic and social problem.”
Source – Welfare News Service, 14 July 2014
Trade Union Congress (TUC) Press Release:
Inner London is the only area of the country to have a higher rate of job starts than before the recession, while job creation in some parts of the country is down 31 per cent on pre-recession levels, according to a new TUC report published today (Monday).
The TUC Touchstone pamphlet Equitable Full Employment: A Jobs Recovery For All (pdf) shows that the recent rise in employment is being driven by fewer people leaving their jobs, rather than more people finding new work.
Job starts – the number of people starting a new job within a three month period – are currently around 20 per cent below pre-recession levels across the UK, and are still falling in parts of the country. The fact that fewer people are leaving their jobs helps to explain why the employment rate for older workers is increasing so much faster than for young people, says the TUC.
The report, written for the TUC by Tony Wilson and Paul Bivand of the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (Inclusion), compares job start rates before the recession, at the height of the crash and during the recent recovery. It finds that metropolitan areas such as London, Birmingham and Tyne and Wear are recovering faster than their neighbouring rural areas.
Inner London is the only area of the country where jobs are being created at a faster rate than before the crash. Outer London, the South East and Eastern England have recovered since the crash but job starts are still 11 per cent, 16 per cent and 21 per cent below pre-recession levels.
Job creation across the rest of the country is more mixed, says the TUC. Job creation in Tyne and Wear is recovering (though still 11 per cent below pre-recession levels) but getting worse across the rest of the North East.
> In fact, as a whole, North East unemployment continues to rise…
Job creation in the West Midlands metropolitan area is recovering but the rest of the region continues to decline (down 31 per cent), while South and West Yorkshire are both performing far better than the rest of Yorkshire and Humberside. Job starts in Greater Manchester have fallen slightly since the height of the crash but the city is still doing far better than Merseyside and the rest of the North West, where job starts are 30 per cent down on pre-recession levels.
Strathclyde is the only major metropolitan area that is performing worse than its neighbouring area, with job creation across the rest of Scotland recovering faster.
The report shows while the UK’s employment rate is rising, there are huge swathes of the country – particularly rural areas – where job creation remains depressed and is getting worse, say the TUC.
The report also looks at job starts across different age groups, qualification levels and types of work. It finds that while job creation rates for graduates are back above pre-recession levels, the number of people with lower-level qualifications starting new jobs declined during the boom and has continued to deteriorate since the crash.
The proportion of jobs starts to non-permanent work is now higher than it was before the crash, with three in ten job starts in temporary work. Fixed-term contacts are the most popular form of temporary work.
The continuing shift from permanent employee jobs to self-employment and temporary work, such as fixed-term contacts and agency work, suggests the nature of the UK jobs market is changing permanently, rather than being a short-term response to the recession, says the TUC.
> The final victory of Thatcherism – smash the unions and the rest can be exploited…
The rate of people moving from unemployment to work is still lower than pre-recession levels across all age groups, say the report. ‘Hiring rates’ have recovered fastest for older workers, but they remain far less likely to move from unemployment to work than any other age group.
Hiring rates for 16-24 year olds, who traditionally have moved from unemployment into work at a far quicker rate than all other age groups, have declined considerably over the last 17 years. People in their late 20s and early 30s are now finding work as quickly as younger people, says the report.
The report makes a number of recommendations to boost job creation and raise employment levels further, including:
• Offering targeted employment support programmes, such as a job guarantee for any young person out of work for at least six months.
• Identifying low skills as a reason to provide more intensive employment support.
• Establishing bodies in each industrial sector so that government, unions and employers can work together to identify skills gaps, promote decent workplace standards and fair pay.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“Many people assume that rising employment levels are simply down to more people getting new work. In fact, the recent recovery in our jobs market is mainly due to people holding onto their jobs, rather than finding new ones. This is great news if you want to keep earning as you approach retirement, but less positive if you’re trying to take your first step on the career ladder.
“Job creation is as important for people looking for work as it is for those already in work and looking to boost their incomes. It’s worrying that across huge swathes of the country – and particularly in rural areas – job creation levels remain depressed and that where jobs are being created far more are temporary positions than before the crash.
“We need to see far more high-quality jobs being created, not just in our cities but across the UK, if we’re going to achieve full employment and a return to healthy pay rises.”
CESI Associate Director Paul Bivand said:
“What we are concerned about is inclusion, which isn’t just our name. Growth in employment should help to close gaps in our society. We don’t want a rising tide to lift just the most buoyant, while leaving others behind. We want all areas and groups to benefit and we need to close gaps.
“We are already hearing that there is a risk of the Bank taking action because of overheating high-end London house prices. For the economy to benefit all, then rises in jobs have to occur in the rural areas as well as the cities, and Glasgow and Merseyside as well as the South East.”
Source – Welfare News Service, 23 June 2014
Trade Union Congress (TUC) Press Release:
Young people not in full-time education are now less likely to be in work than people of other ages and their prospects are declining, despite the recent recovery in the jobs market, the TUC warns today (Sunday) ahead of a new report on full employment to be published tomorrow.
But this improvement is not being felt by young people who aren’t in full-time education, or who have basic or no qualifications. Their prospects have deteriorated rapidly over the same period.
The job situation facing young people outside full-time education is particularly alarming, says the TUC. Back in 1998, three-quarters of young people who weren’t studying were in work – higher than the employment rate for all workers at the time (71 per cent). However, these youngsters’ job prospects fell behind that of other workers in mid-2005 and have continued to decline ever since.
The job chances of young people not in full-time education converged with workers aged 50-64 last summer – a remarkable turnaround given that they were 25 per cent more likely to be in work than older workers back in 1998.
The TUC report also shows that fewer than half of those who have no qualifications are in work, while the employment rate for those who only have basic (level 1) qualifications has fallen to around 63 per cent.
Unless action is taken, the prospects for low-skilled youngsters and unqualified people of all ages will continue to deteriorate, warns the TUC. This will make it impossible for any government to achieve full employment, despite all mainstream political parties now being committed to it.
> Are they ? They say they are, but unemployment keeps wages down and generates opportunities for eroding worker’s rights – which is what the big businesses who ultimately call the shots really want.
Maybe we all should start getting our heads around the idea that full employment is impossible, and use that as our starting point ?
The reduction in the ‘jobs disadvantage’ facing lone parents, disabled, black, Asian and older workers in the last two decades shows that strong growth and targeted government support can make a huge difference, says the TUC. It would like to see the government increase investment in schemes to unemployed and poorly qualified youngsters so that their fortunes can be turned around too.
> Oh no, not another unemployed course ! The only winners there are the poverty pimp organizations who make a mint running them.
The report makes a number of recommendations to help raise employment rates for young people not in full-time education, including:
- Offering targeted employment support programmes, such as a job guarantee for any young person out of work for at least six months
- Identifying low skills as a reason to provide more intensive employment support
- Establishing bodies in each industrial sector so that government, unions and employers could work together to identify skills gaps, promote decent workplace standards and fair pay.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“All the mainstream political parties now support unions’ long-held commitment to full employment.
“But with job prospects for many young people, and poorly qualified people of all ages, deteriorating it will be impossible for any government to achieve this goal unless radical action is taken.
“Over the last two decades, we’ve learnt that strong growth and proper investment in employment programmes can make a huge difference to people’s job chances. But ministers seem keener on kicking struggling youngsters when they’re down and removing the safety net they need to learn new skills and find work.
“We need to increase funding for employment programmes, for example by guaranteeing a job or training to any young person who’s been out of work for six months or more. Spending more money on jobs support now will save money in the long run by getting more people in work and paying taxes.”
Source – Welfare News Service, 22 June 2014
Increasing the length of time people who lose their jobs will have to wait before they can claim benefits will not help them find work, and risks pushing unemployed people into the arms of loan sharks, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) warns.
From Autumn 2014 anyone who is unlucky enough to lose their job will have to wait seven days before they can make a claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA), according to a consultation published by the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC). The SSAC advises the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on benefits issues.
TUC say that according to the Government’s own impact assessment the change means that people will lose £40 in benefits they would have received under the current system. That system asks that people who lose their jobs wait three days before becoming eligible to claim unemployment benefits, rather than the seven days waiting period being proposed by the coalition government.
The impact assessment, which forms part of the consultation published by the SSAC, suggests that the change in the waiting period for benefits will affect as many as 1.3 million people a year.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“Forcing people to wait for job support will not help anyone find work. Instead it will make them easy prey for loan sharks. This has nothing to do with making work pay. It is simply a mean attack on the welfare safety net and could affect any one of us.
“It won’t matter how long anyone has had a job or how much they have contributed to the system, they will all suffer the same penalty. The vast majority of people who lose a job thankfully find another one within a few months, but this is when they need help to tide them over between jobs. That is why we have a national insurance system to which we contribute when we are in work – a system that is now under attack.”
Paul Gray, Chair of the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC), said:
“This proposal has history. An identical change was put forward by the Government in 1998 but subsequently dropped. Then, as now, an understandable desire to ensure limited public resources are used most effectively was the main driver for the proposal. However, as benefits are now being paid fortnightly in arrears, it is important that we understand the full impact of this change – particularly on the most vulnerable. We are keen to hear from anyone who is able to provide information about the consequences of this change”.
The change is expected to come into force from October and anyone wishing to have their say are asked to submit evidence to the SSAC (pdf) by 13 June 2014.
Source – Welfare News Service, 23 May 2014
Alarm bells should sound for the region’s economy as the North East drops behind Wales for average pay.
For the first time in years people in Tyneside, Northumberland and County Durham are taking home a lower average salary than those in Wales.
The drop in pay is proof that the region needs a dedicated economic steering group, argues policy experts from the Trade Union Congress.
“The figures are significant because Wales is better equipped as a region economically. I do worry about the North East with what’s going on in Scotland in that we will be left with no real tools to make the level of difference that we need and that people in this region deserve,” said Neil Foster, policy and campaigns officer for the TUC Northern Region.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that the North East was the worst paid region in the UK in 2013 with an average salary of £24,084. In London pay is £35,238 a year, and the UK average is £27,017.
Average pay in Wales is just £100 more a year on average at £24,182, however the country has regularly been used as an economic indicator to judge the North East’s progress.
Mr Foster said: “There’s lots of similarities between the North East and Wales so the fact that we have gone behind them should ring alarm bells.
“The fact that we have slipped behind Wales is significant because they have got an assembly with the economic powers to stimulate the economy and provide good quality jobs in the most productive sectors.
“The fact that we don’t have a Regional Development Agency means we should be saying to Whitehall that they must devolve economic powers to our regions. If you are given the tools you can create economic prosperity.”
The TUC said the latest pay figures show a rise on paper, however inflation meant a real terms cut.
The statistics show that in the North East the average wage was £17,430 in the year 2000, rising to £24,084 last year. This 38.1% increase in wages was the slowest percentage increase anywhere in the UK.
In 2000 a North East resident earned £1,418 less than the national average, but by 2013 this had grown to £2,933, demonstrating a cut people’s spending power.
Pay in London has continued to rise faster than almost anywhere in England, however Scotland has risen the fastest with their average annual wage up 46.8% from £18,029 in 2000 to £26, 472 in 2013.
Reintroducing a regional economic governance body is the only way to put the North East back on track, Mr Foster argues.
“I don’t think it’s inevitable the North East has to be the lowest paid region but unless there is change, it will be very difficult to predict with any confidence that things will be getting better soon,” he said.
Earlier this week TUC Northern Secretary Beth Farhat said ONS figures also revealed a worrying trend for women in the North East as there has been a 20% rise in female unemployment in the last 12 months – from 49,000 up to 59,000.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 28 Feb 2014