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No end in sight on UK wage squeeze as three quarters of workers expect to be poorer in 2018

Britain is increasingly becoming an overworked and underpaid nation. Almost 80% of British workers believe they will be poorer over the coming year as the cost of living crisis intensifies, a survey of workers has found.

The findings are revealed in a new report by CLASS, the Centre for Labour and Social Studies, which surveyed 2,000 workers last month. It found that three quarters believed the economy was not working for them.

Wage stagnation is now pushing workers to breaking point, with 20% of working households having taken on a second job to make ends meet, and a further 20% who are seriously considering it.

The study found alarming levels of worker stress across many sectors due to mounting personal debt and longer hours with less pay.

The report – called ‘Labour Market Realities: Workers On The Brink’ – is released on the same morning as the latest ONS labour market figures.

Dr Faiza Shaheen, Director of CLASS, said:

“Workers in Britain are rapidly losing hope and believe there is no light at the end of the tunnel on pay. They are overworked, underpaid, stressed and beset with job insecurity and wage stagnation. With interest rates set to rise, workers are caught in a perfect storm.

“There are two economies in Britain; one where the government boasts about record employment and the other which is defined by work intensification and a never-ending pay squeeze.”

Our workers survey found:

ON PAY: Just 22% were expecting a pay rise at or above inflation in 2018.
ON THE ECONOMY: 3 in 4 workers did not believe the economy was working for them.
ON SECOND JOBS: 2 out of 5 households are working in a second job to make ends meet, or were considering it.
ON STRESS: Over half of all workers have seen an increased workload over the past 12 months.
ON PRIVATISATION: Privatisation and outsourcing has unleashed a race to the bottom, with more hours worked for less money and fewer benefits, eg. holidays.
ON HIGH EARNERS: One third of those paid over £40,000 were still not earning enough to keep up with the basic cost of living.

The report calls for:

WORKER EMPOWERMENT: Collective bargaining and greater say on company boards to give workers a greater voice in the organisation and find alternatives to exploitation.
REWARDING OVERTIME: Legislation to compensate for over-working; a ban on contacting workers outside specified work hours; and a ban on zero hours contracts.
AGENCY STAFF: Closing loopholes that allow companies to exploit agency workers. All agency staff working more than 12 weeks should be paid the employee rate.
END SPENDING CUTS: Our survey found austerity is one of the biggest threats to employment. Public services should be adequately funded.

Dr Faiza Shaheen added:

“Ten years after the crash, the pressures on workers are now becoming the new normal. This is not just about low productivity and a weak pound, but also about privatisation, austerity and Brexit. We need to address the fundamental imbalance in power between workers and employers. An economy that delivers good quality jobs and living standards is an economy that works for everyone.”

“I fear for the health and wellbeing of Britain’s workforce, there is only so long that workers can make ends meet by maxing out their credit. Low income workers are close to breaking point and those on high income are also struggling to make ends meet.”

For the full report click here.

Media contact: Lester Holloway, 07525 413 139,