Black workers receive ‘poverty wages’
Today’s Trust for London report doesn’t make comfortable reading, particularly if you’re Black. This comprehensive report into low paid wages across London should shake the political establishment to the core. Truth is it probably won't. The figures which are truly shocking speak volumes: 20% of working Londoners or 1in 5 are being paid ‘poverty wages’.
That means they are not being paid enough to meet the basic costs of living in the capital. This figure jumps to 33%, or one in three living on poverty wages when it comes to being Black. Black Londoners face a double whammy: First, unemployment levels for Black young men is running at 55%, and many of those and others including women who are lucky to find a job are too often being paid ‘poverty wages’.
We’ve had a glimpse of this when we look at the thousands of office and hotel cleaners in the capital, who are predominantly from Africa, Latin America or South Asia. Many women and men are up at the crack of dawn, working long, hard hours for a wage that barely covers London rents, food and travel.
The report strongly suggests that employers should pay employees a London Living Wage. CEO of the London Trust, Bharat Mehta, said:
This piece of research conclusively shows that paying the Living Wage benefits employers, workers and government. Government can save nearly £1 billion a year in London if companies in the capital pay the Living Wage; workers receive thousands more in wages and employers can reap HR, reputational and efficiency benefits. This means there is no reason for large numbers of companies to pay poverty wages in the capital.
Paying the Living Wage gives people fair reward for the work they do and helps to tackle poverty and inequality in one of the most unequal cities in the developed world.
Do we really need any more convincing why we need a strong political voice to demand social and racial justice? Are we still saying ‘it’s cool not to vote’, whilst our political class pay scant regard to these levels of gross inequality?
Only when 1-million Black people collectively have a political voice, will we be in a strong position to demand that tens of thousand of Black people are taken out of their ‘poverty wage’.