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Campaign calls for £10 per hour minimum wage

RETAIL workers called for a sharp increase in the minimum wage, at the launch of the ‘Time for a Better Pay’ campaign in Cardiff today.

The campaign, run by the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW), also seeks a minimum contract of 16 hours per week for everyone who asks for it and an end to zero hours contracts.

Nick Ireland, USDAW’s Divisional Officer for South Wales and Western Division, said: “Our workers suffer endemic low pay. We want a £10 per hour minimum wage.

“We want to get rid of zero-hours contracts and we’re working with the TUC (Trades Union Congress) and the Welsh Government to implement a ‘fair work’ policy across the nation.

“We need legislation, not just ideas, warm words won’t cut it.”

These aims are based on an USDAW survey of 10,500 workers in retail, distribution and food production, which reveals the problems caused by low pay and insecure work.

Almost 60% of respondents said they were paid less than £8.50 per hour and 76% were relying on pay day loans, credit cards, overdrafts and borrowing from family to pay everyday bills.

Ray Brunnock, 32, a Tesco worker, said: “An increase in the minimum wage could be done easily, straight away. Tesco made £1.2bn profit last year, giving £10 per hour to workers is nothing to them.

“Our minimum contracts are seven and a half hours and workers are only given 24 hours’ notice of their next shift.

“We also earn around £8.30 an hour. This doesn’t give people any security. Of course that creates depression and anxiety as people struggle to pay their bills.

“When food is about to go out of date, they’ll offer it to staff at the end of the day. It’s like an in-store foodbank.”

Irregular working hours are a particular problem for those with young families.

Alex Bingham, 32, from Cardiff, said: “I have two children under four. My working hours are very unreliable, I’m on a 19 hour contract but I normally work between 30 and 45 hours a week.

“This, in combination with the way the childcare allowance has been set, means I find it very difficult to balance work with looking after my children.”

Jayne Bryant AM, speaking at the campaign launch in the Senedd earlier today

Speaking at the campaign launch, Jayne Bryant, AM for Newport West, said: “There is no doubt that low pay and short hours contracts have a devastating impact on people’s lives.”

The issue most often raised by workers at the event was zero-hours contracts.

George Petrie, 64, who works for Tesco in Blaenau Gwent, told The Cardiffian that zero-hours contracts were totally unacceptable and that a minimum contract of 16 hours a week was a key part of USDAW’s campaign.

As of April 2019, the UK National Living Wage will rise to £8.21 per hour. £1.79 below the amount USDAW are campaigning for.