Most shop workers feel worse off now than they did about a year ago while a good majority have a fear of getting ill, a workers union has claimed, calling on immediate reform of Statutory Sick Pay rules and better new deal for workers.
According to the latest findings of cost of living survey of over 6,000 key workers in retail and associated industries by retail trade union Usdaw, a staggering 81.5 per cent of members say they feel worse off now than they did 12 months ago, higher than 77 per cent in 2022 and 39 per cent in 2021.
While 76 per cent are not able to afford to be take sick leave, 61 per cent identify getting ill as a key concern and 70 per cent say their children are missing out.
Commenting on the survey’s findings, Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary, stated that these real-life testimonies are heart-breaking, yet the Government still tries to convince workers that the cost of living crisis is coming to an end.
“Usdaw’s latest survey results tell a very different story and it should be a matter of shame for Ministers that over 8 in 10 of our members feel worse off than last year. These are mainly key workers in the retail grocery industry who keep the nation fed, but are struggling to put food on their own table.
“Three-quarters of our members have a real fear of getting ill and many are using holidays to ensure their income still covers the bills. If we learnt nothing else from the pandemic, surely we must now have immediate reform of Statutory Sick Pay rules, so that sick people can take necessary time off work, have enough to live on and part time workers are not left without support.
“Statutory sick pay is paid at a miserly £109.40 per week. For many who work part-time while also caring for children or other family members, the minimum earnings threshold of £123 per week means they are not entitled to any sick pay at all. 84% of our members in receipt of in-work benefits reported that they could not afford to take time off work if they fall ill.
“Labour has already committed, within the first 100 days of coming into government, to increase Statutory Sick Pay and make it available to all workers, including those on low wages who are not eligible under the current rules. This is part of a comprehensive new deal for workers under Labour.
“Disturbingly nearly three-quarters of Usdaw members said that their children are missing out because money is too tight. Children not being able to engage in cultural and social enrichment can be another consequence of poverty. Children in working families are increasingly falling into poverty, with many respondents saying they feel shame at having to cut back on treats. 73% of families said they don’t expect to be able to afford a holiday this year, many have not been on holiday since Covid.
“These findings clearly show that those who are so essential to our economy and did so much to help the country through the pandemic, are at significant risk of being left further behind. Usdaw is calling on the Government to deliver a new deal for workers. The Tories have clearly demonstrated they will not provide the change our members desperately need, it’s time for a change, it’s time for Labour.”
Usdaw has been calling for a New Deal for Workers that includes minimum wage of at least £12 per hour immediately, minimum contract of 16 hours per week, better sick pay for all workers, protection at work and respect for shopworkers and proper social security system.