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Christmas Day key workers’ pay lower than a decade ago

Written by: Emma Lunn
Thousands of key workers working on Christmas Day are earning less now in real terms than a decade ago, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The TUC looked at the jobs most likely to be working on 25 December and tracked their real wages over the past 11 years.

The research found nurses’ real wages are down more than £2,700 a year, local government care workers are down more than £1,600 a year, and chefs are down more than £1,050 a year.

The TUC says many of those on duty on Christmas Day this year on will be on low pay, especially in sectors like social care. The union body said that after working on the frontline of the pandemic, many key workers are at breaking point because of a mix of low pay, excessive workloads, and a lack of recognition.

The TUC is calling on the government to prioritise key worker pay in 2022, reversing a decade of lost pay. The union body says ministers must make sure all public service workers get a decent pay rise, through fully independent pay review bodies or collective bargaining, without restrictions being set by the chancellor.

It’s also calling for the government to fund the public sector so that all outsourced workers are paid at least the real Living Wage, or get pay parity with directly-employed staff doing the same job. The TUC is also calling for the national minimum wage to be raised to £10 per hour immediately.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said: “Many of the key workers who are bracing themselves for another surge of Covid cases are earning less in real terms than they were a decade ago. That is not right.

“While many of us are tucking into the turkey, thousands of key workers will be hard at work on the frontline, many of them dealing with staff shortages as a result of the Omicron variant. But their pay awards are falling way short of what they should be, especially in a cost-of-living crisis.

“The pandemic must be a turning point. 2022 should be the year that the government finally gets wages rising across the UK. They can start by giving our public service workers a proper pay rise, and by raising the minimum wage to £10 an hour.”

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