In a Parliamentary debate yesterday on the introduction of the ‘National Living Wage’ and associated changed to employee contracts, Ellesmere Port & Neston MP Justin Madders condemned the “insecurity, uncertainty and exploitation” prevalent in many work places across the country.
The debate was tabled by the Backbench Business Committee and followed numerous reports in the press of companies reducing staff terms & conditions following the introduction of the new ‘Living Wage, leaving thousands of low-paid employees significantly worse off. MPs debated a motion calling on the Government to “guarantee that no worker will be worse off as a result of the introduction of the “National Living Wage.”
Examples of the poor practices raised during the debate include B&Q, where a rise in basic pay was being accompanied by cuts to Sunday and bank holiday pay as well as bonuses, leaving some workers more than £2,000 a year worse off.
In the debate, Justin called for an end to the practice of “employers abusing their bargaining position to take away with one hand what the new Minimum Wage gives with another,” before highlighting broader issues affecting workers, including his own research into the restaurant and fast food industry.
“The research, which was conducted at the end of last year, showed that 90% of the 9,000 outlets surveyed did not pay the real living wage. It also highlighted the widespread practice of what is known colloquially as “shift shafting”, whereby staff are sent home at the start or in the middle of a shift if the outlet is not busy, without any pay or compensation. More than 80% of respondents to the survey admitted that they would do that. It means that people can end up out of pocket simply by going to work, through being made to wait around without pay and then being sent home without even having their travel costs reimbursed.
For many people, being in work means vulnerability and uncertainty about their future. How can we tolerate a situation in which people in work can routinely not know whether they will have earned enough to put food on their family’s table at the end of the day?”
Speaking after the debate, Justin said:
“It is disappointing but not surprising that many employers are looking for ways to get out of paying their staff the new increased Minimum Wage. While some claim that they have no other way of meeting the increased costs, the last Budget also contained significant cuts to Corporation Tax, which could easily enable them to pay their staff fairly.
More broadly, there are some very poor working practices across the country, including zero-hour contracts and the practice of sending staff home without compensation part way through their shifts.
We need a fundamental change in attitude from the Government and also from many employers, recognising the value and importance of providing people with rights at work and treating employees fairly.”
To watch Justin’s question on parliament.tv, click the following link: http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/49023df6-9610-49c6-866a-6852d555fbf8?in=18:23:48&out=18:31:30