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31.03.2022 / Press releases /

New national minimum wage is a poverty wage, say UVW members

  • The new national minimum wage of £9.50 per hour for adults, which comes into effect on Friday 1 April, is not enough to live on, say 100% of UVW members surveyed
  • 89% of those asked are finding it harder to make ends meet, pay bills, buy food and clothes, keep warm and pay rent
  • UVW is calling on workers to get together and organise in their workplaces and communities to demand a proper living wage and fight for their rights.

United Voices of the World (UVW) members, who are precarious, low-paid and predominantly Black, brown and migrant workers in the UK, say the much trumpeted new national minimum wage is still a poverty wage and simply too low to live on.

As the new national minimum wage goes up to £9.50 per hour for adults from 1 April 2022, 100% of members asked said it is not enough to live on, while 89% say they are finding it harder to make ends meet, pay bills, buy food and clothes, keep warm and pay rent.  The new minimum wage is still below the recommended living wage for workers in the UK.

With the cost of living rocketing, some UVW members said they are having to ration or even choose between food and heating. Other members mentioned living in debt or being constantly overdrawn. Members are struggling to pay rent or essential repairs, are unable to afford clothes or holidays or go back into education, even those who said they are paid slightly above the minimum wage already. 

Workers are facing exorbitant increases in food and energy, with some members saying their bills have gone up by 50%. We are facing the worst decline in our living standards in the UK that any of us have known and members are worrying about how to survive on meagre wages that can’t keep up with the cost of living. This derisive pay rise for the lowest paid doesn’t offset the Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation, which hit 8.2% in February and is expected to rise further.

Many UVW members think the minimum wage should be reconsidered in view of the escalating inflation, with some calling on policy-makers to try and live on their low wages to experience for themselves the realities faced by hardworking people.

UVW is calling on workers to get together and organise in their workplaces and communities to demand a proper living wage and fight for our  rights. We in UVW fight through direct, collective action on the streets and in the courts.  

Efilsuver Gaviria Lozada, cleaner and UVW member:

“I’m getting a 10p an hour rise from April 1… but what am I going to do with that, with all the costs going through the roof? I earn the London Living Wage already and it’s almost impossible for me to make ends meet. I’m paying double what I used to for food, electricity, water and gas… so those 10p aren’t going to solve anything for us. We are on poverty wages and we are working more and more for less money. I think the minimum wage should be £14 or £15 an hour. Let the members of the government who design these policies go out to work, cleaning like us, to see if they can live on a wage like ours. Let them experience firsthand what a poverty wage is.  We are becoming slaves because we have no life. We do nothing but work, more and more hours for less and less money, and many of us do not even see our children because there is no time to do anything but work in order to survive.  The working class is being mistreated. ” 

Kachi Odidika, paralegal and UVW member: 

“The costs of energy, food and rent keep rising even as their quality drops, and wages are staying virtually the same. It feels like we’re working harder to struggle more. It’s even more difficult as a migrant. I double pay for the NHS, and although I pay taxes, I have no recourse to public funds. I still have debts in the thousands to repay as I had to shoulder the exorbitant cost of visas. There’s just no room to breathe.”

For further information contact the UVW communications team.

Cristina: 07984 462405

Jim: 07749 765264

Isabel: 07706987443

E-mail: comms@uvwunion.org.uk

Notes for editors

UVW is an anti-racist, member-led, direct action, campaigning trade union and we exist to support and empower the most vulnerable groups of precarious, low-paid and predominantly Black, brown and migrant workers in the UK. We fight the bosses through direct action on the streets and through the courts and demand that all members receive at least the London Living Wage, full pay, sick pay, dignity, equality and respect.

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