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Low pay vanishes in Docklands—but up to half workers elsewhere face poverty rates, says TUC

PUBLISHED: 11:35 24 February 2015 | UPDATED: 19:24 25 February 2015

Things looking up for low-pay workers in MP Jim Fitzpatrick's Poplar & Limehouse constituency

Things looking up for low-pay workers in MP Jim Fitzpatrick's Poplar & Limehouse constituency

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Company bosses are bucking a national trend in London’s deprived East End and giving their workers a decent Living Wage.

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady at rally in 2013 urging Chancellor to put jobs firstTUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady at rally in 2013 urging Chancellor to put jobs first

Most are paying above the minimum hourly-rate in contrast to other parts of east London and many areas across the country.

Firms in MP Jim Fitzpatrick’s Poplar & Limehouse constituency—where the national Living Wage campaign was launched a decade ago—are among the best hourly-rate payers, well above both the London and the national average.

An analysis by TUC researchers from House of Commons statistics shows that one-in-five jobs pays below the £9.15 hourly rate for London, or £7.85 for the rest of Britain.

More than half the workers in some Parliamentary constituencies earn less.

“Working families have experienced the biggest squeeze on their living standards since Victorian times,” TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said.

“Pay has been squeezed at all levels below the boardroom—the government’s mantra about ‘making work pay’ is completely out of touch with reality.”

The TUC is calling for “a far wider commitment to pay the living wage” from government, employers and modern wages councils to drive up productivity and set higher minimum rates in industries “where employers can afford to pay their staff more”.

But it’s the East End setting the example, where fewer than eight out of 100 firms pay less than the minimum rate, just 7.5 per cent, in the former Minister for London Jim Fitzpatrick’s Poplar & Limehouse constituency, which includes Canary Wharf and the Docklands waterfront up to the Tower of London.

However, almost twice that number of company bosses are on the “Shame List” in MP Rushanara Ali’s neighbouring Bethnal Green & Bow, at 13pc, which is a fraction less than employers over the constituency boundary in Hackney South & Shoreditch that includes Old Street’s Tech City.

Percentage of firms paying less-than-minimum Living Wage hourly rate in the rest of east London is shamefully well above the 18pc London average.

A quarter of all firms in West Ham, 25pc, and a third in East Ham, 33pc, pay less.

Worst constituency in east London for “poverty pay” is further out in suburban Chingford & Woodford Green, just over 48pc, Hornchurch & Upminster just over 35pc, Ilford North and Leyton & Wanstead 25.5pc each, Barking and Ilford North just over 24pc each, while Romford and Dagenham & Rainham is just over 20pc each.

The national Living Wage campaign was launched in the East End 10 years ago by Telco, The East London Communities Organisation, or Citizens UK, with its first victory at Barclay’s and other Canary Wharf banks signing a pledge to pay decent rates to their cleaners and maintenance staff.

The big banks were followed by Tower Hamlets Council which became the first local authority to sign up to scrap poverty earnings among its own and its contractors’ employees.


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