Our very existence is broken – thoughts on UK wages standstill

The median UK wage is £11.09 an hour

This blog post is slightly ranty, philosophical and full to bursting of subjective reasoning with lots of thoughts just not fully formed – you have been warned.

The report from the TUC dubbed “Britain’s Livelihood Crisis” has been making the headlines today. The main headline is that the wages paid to huge swathes of the UK population and been at a “standstill over last 30 years“.

How is this evidence that “our very existence is broken”? Well, it’s just based on thoughts that have been fermenting in my head for quite some time. Working in jobs that don’t give you directly what you need i.e. food, clothes, shelter, mental stimulations and socialising – that give you money… it just seems like employers are shirking the responsibility they owe to people for taking over huge chunks of peoples’ lives.

You work a full time job (35 hours a week) and get paid the national minimum wage of £5.93… Over the course of a year, accounting for 25 days worth of paid holiday time, you would be earning around £10,792.60 a year, before tax.

That wage is far less than the median UK wage, though most businesses will usually break into the £6 and a bit spectrum when they pay near the minimum wage. I earn more than that, but far less than the median figure the report mentions. And this is the same for a lot of people in Cornwall. No wonder we can’t afford private rent let alone our own homes.

Part of how wrongly “the system” treats people is that 35 hours a week working your ass off in a retail business or a restaurant is valued as less than someone who works as a banker. Both groups will probably find their jobs equally demanding on their skills and ability, put in the same amount of effort – but they get paid differently.

Sure, there would be those who would say that with the education system we have that everyone has the opportunity to be that banker – but do we really? What if we’ve always had problems with mathematics, come from a broken home, couldn’t go to college or university because we had to care for an ill relative (and the chances of graduates getting highly paid jobs seems to decrease each year), have never been a people person… the list could go on.

We don’t all have those opportunities and that is certainly evident in the so-called “developing world”.

Getting back to the whole broken existence thing and the report’s findings – what’s the point in having jobs for people that don’t provide for their basic needs, because the amounts earned can’t actually pay for them? I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have jobs, but people should have the right to spend their lives doing things they enjoy in order to make their way in the world and be paid a fair and livable wage as well.

‘Course we could come up with some weird socialist system where things that we need are directly provided to us and we “work” for “luxuries”. Kinda like in Star Trek.

Alright, that’s it for now, I think I’m just about to break the double-speech marks key.


2 thoughts on “Our very existence is broken – thoughts on UK wages standstill

  1. I completely agree. I would also like to say that just because someone works in retail or in restaurants does not make them stupid. Fact of the matter is that we need those jobs filled and, much like one of the main arguments for offering massive pay for a highly skill position, we need to pay the people who take up these physically demanding jobs more – if only to attract competent and trustworthy people.

    Having a multi-tier system for jobs is unacceptable and unfair. Part of the problem comes when people go for jobs simply based upon the wage rather than doing something they actually like doing. The common misconception is that lower paid jobs are undesirable not because of the pay, but because of the type of work involved. How can we push people into jobs where they’re not better off AND they get treated badly/thought of as stupid?

    And we wonder why we have an unemployment problem…

  2. I never enjoyed working in retail – not because of a lowered opinion of it or because it’s skills requirement is generally less than my eventual agreed career path, but because it’s just not a job style that suits me. I’m more creative and enjoy working at a desk.

    I basically do what I enjoy doing and it just happens to be decently paid. I’d probably still do it if it wasn’t.

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