Sunday, 30 July 2017

The BBC and wage inequality

In last week’s Cornish Guardian, my article focused on the “fall-out” from the BBC’s announcement about the salaries of its top celebrities. It was as follows:

The formal publication of the salary levels for the highest paid employees in the BBC was one of last week’s big news stories.

There has been considerable anger that certain presenters have been paid hundreds of thousands of pounds from the UK’s public broadcaster, while there was also a significant focus on the “gender gap” between male and female high-fliers. One newspaper has even renamed the Corporation as the “Bloated Blokes Club.”

And is it any wonder, when the tabloids print stories about how certain BBC celebrities have spent more on a single wristwatch than many Cornish residents – myself included – earn in a year?

For me, this all focuses attention on the inequality that pervades the United Kingdom – with some people earning so much, millions earning less in real terms than previous years, and many earning so little that they are struggling to make ends meet.

This is a massive issue in Cornwall, where low pay is an entrenched problem with average wages long having been more than 20% below the UK average.

Looking back, I remember that a couple of years ago I wrote about the Resolution Foundation report titled “Low Pay Britain” which set out concerns about the well-being of the five million British workers in extremely low-paid work.

Report after report shows that the situation has not improved for so many individuals and families. For example, a recent study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies about male employment shows that “twenty years ago, only one in 20 men aged 25 to 55 worked part-time with low hourly wages. Today one in five of this group works part-time.”

Public sector workers have also lost out because of the continuation of austerity measures and I am pleased to have been able to back the GMB’s campaign against the ongoing pay freeze. The union rightly makes the case that “the financial crash wasn’t caused by teaching assistants, council officers or hospital porters. And it’s outrageous that they are still expected to pay the price for the banking crisis over a decade later.”

It also points out how, since 2010, the wages of public sector workers' “have been frozen, or have increased below inflation, which means their cost of living is rising faster than their pay, leaving them out of pocket.”

The GMB estimates that the average worker delivering vital public services has lost £9,000 over the last seven years and face losing another £4,000 in the next three years.

Surely, this all demonstrates that building a more equal society must be a key priority for all political parties going forward.

No comments: