More than a decade on from the financial crisis, wages have still not fully recovered, with the average worker £17 a week worse off than they were in 2009.
Nurses and teachers were among the hardest hit in a new TUC analysis out on Tuesday (May 14) – people employed in healthcare or education are, as a whole, £34 a week worse off than they were a decade ago.
Workers in food manufacturing were among those who fared worst, with the average worker £52 a week worse off than they were in 2009.
Some sectors fared better overall a decade on from the financial crisis, according to the TUC analysis, with finance topping the list – on average, workers in finance were £119 a week better off than a decade ago.
But Unite national officer for finance Dominic Hook was quick to point out that the latest data obscures the reality for the finance sector members Unite represents, many of whom struggle on low wages.
“The workers in finance who we represent are a far cry from ‘fat cat’ bankers who rake in millions in salaries and bonuses in the City of London. Many of our members, from call centre workers, processing staff to bank branch staff and others, can be on salaries as low as £18,000.
“Because the top earners in finance are so lavishly remunerated, this skews pay data in the finance sector, where so many workers are struggling and using tax credits to top up their wages just to make ends meet,” he added. “Not all ‘bankers’ are fat cat bankers.
“Since the financial crisis, it’s been ordinary frontline bank workers who have paid for the mistakes of the few at the top – tens of thousands of banking jobs were slashed after the crash, pensions schemes were closed and bank branches were shut,” he added.
“Any discussion of the impact the financial crash has had on working people must acknowledge what low-paid finance workers have had to endure over the last decade. Unite members in the finance sector continue to bear the brunt of the excesses at the top of the financial services industry.”
The TUC analysis comes as Nobel-prize winning economist Sir Angus Deaton warned on Tuesday (May 14) that Britain is following the lead of the US in becoming one of the most unequal nations on earth.
Deaton, who is leading a ground-breaking five-year review of inequality in the UK, told the Guardian, “People really feel that not everybody is having a fair crack anymore.
“There’s a real question about whether democratic capitalism is working, when it’s only working for part of the population.”
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner welcomed Sir Deaton’s review, and pointed to the latest TUC pay analysis as further proof that the post-crash economy was broken.
“It is a national scandal that more than a decade on from the financial crisis, ordinary working people’s wages have still not recovered. Coupled with sky-rocketing living costs and government austerity policies, far too many families are falling through the cracks, struggling to feed their children and keep a roof over their heads.
“The people of this country deserve better, which is why we need a £10 minimum wage, the banning of exploitative zero-hour contracts and better workplace access for unions who will help workers organise for better pay and conditions.”