The Workers Union has demanded a ‘swift, decisive’ response from government over the issue of worker exploitation. The statement comes hard on the heels of a recent interview, in which interim director of labour enforcement, Matthew Taylor, admitted: ‘we don’t know enough about what’s going on.’
Taylor heads a collection of agencies with the power to enforce the rights of workers. But a lack of comprehensive, official research has let many firms go unpunished and seen think tanks like the Resolution Foundation pick up the slack. They estimate that in a single month, nearly 9,500 companies failed to pay their staff what they were entitled to. They also estimate that a staggering 350,000 people are being paid below the minimum wage.
A spokesperson for The Workers Union said: ‘In a world that’s increasingly characterised by low-pay, job insecurity and poor working conditions, it’s dispiriting to learn that government officials are unaware of the extent of the problem. Perhaps if they burst the Westminster bubble they’d realise that not everyone listens to Radio 4, shops at Waitrose or takes skiing holidays to Switzerland. In the big wide world beyond Parliament, hard-working people are struggling to afford basic groceries while rents rocket and wages stagnate. Meanwhile, the obligation to secure fair pay and a decent working environment seems to have been dumped on workers themselves, leaving many people in vulnerable groups open to exploitation and dismissal without recourse to legal protection. If English isn’t your first language and you have little in the way of free time and resources, you’re in a completely different place to a middle-income earner on a permanent contract.
‘We want swift, decisive action from the government to clean up this mess and show that improving the pay and conditions of low-income workers is a priority.’
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