Living Wage for Key Workers Campaign
The COVID19 lockdown restrictions have eased and the Thursday night clapping for our key workers seems like a distant memory to many, but for those working on the Living Wage for Key Workers campaign – that energy and appreciation has continued and has been injected into their work for Living Wages.
These celebrated workers account for 33% of the Welsh workforce which equates to nearly half a million people, all of whom have bills to pay and likely families to feed. Key workers are paid less per hour than the rest of the British workforce as a UK-wide average, and this is a pay gap that has been widening for some time. Key workers have similar demographic and educational characteristics to the rest of the workforce and have proved themselves essential within our daily lives and foundational economy yet are not rewarded with a living wage for this essential and undervalued work.
It is this injustice that sparked the Living Wage for Key Workers Campaign – an official campaign lead by Citizens UK and supported by the Living Wage Foundation who invite organisations that employ key workers to be supported through the accreditation process as a Living Wage employer and therefore uplifting the pay of anyone on below the Real Living Wage within these organisations.
Who are Key Workers?
Key workers are more likely to be women or from a BAME background. 58% of key workers are women and 14% are from a BAME background (compared to 12% across whole workforce). When you look at health and social care workers 79% of that workforce are female.
Across Wales, key workers make up a larger percentage of the workforce in rural and valleys local authority areas with over 40% of the workforce in Anglesey, Blaenau Gwent and Ceredigion employed as key workers.
Who are the lowest paid Key Workers?
The lowest paid key workers are in occupations in the health, social care, food and education sectors.
The Resolution Foundation highlights that 56% of frontline care workers in Wales earn below the Real Living Wage and those in care roles within the private sector are paid less than those employed by local authorities. However, this is not to say that there is not more to be done by local authorities on taking action on fair pay for their frontline care workers.
What can you do about it?
You can get involved with the Living Wage for Key Workers campaign in Wales by visiting the sites of Citizens Cymru or the Living Wage Foundation to download campaign material and find out more.
You can sign this petition.
You can also raise queries with your local authority or any other key worker employer that you may be involved with on working towards Living Wage accreditation – to ensure that any worker employed by these bodies is paid enough to live a life of good quality on. They can be signposted to Cynnal Cymru as the accrediting body for Wales who are available to support them through this process.
It is important that we never forget the risk taken and sacrifices made by these key workers during a time of national crisis – our gratitude is important but more important is rewarding their hard work with a fair rate of pay and calling for a Living Wage for Key Workers.