The Conservative Party are drifting out of touch with their supporters on the bread and butter issues of work and pay.
Polling by Survation of over 1,000 working people for the Unions21 Fair Work Commission has highlighted where they’re parting company with their voters. According to Conservative voters who are in work:
- Unequal pay is the biggest barrier to fairness in the workplace.
- Three quarters think the National Minimum Wage isn’t enough to live on
- 83% would back a law to give low-paid employees more say on their pay in companies making a good profit
- Only 20% of them would oppose a cap on bonuses at double base salary
You might expect their views to be taken into account by the Ministers they elected, but pay freezes in the public sector and tax cuts for the highest earners, suggest not.
Almost a quarter of Conservative voters (24%) make protection from bad employers the top priority issue they want unions to take action on – around the same proportion are union members. But the Government they voted for has eroded protections. In the name of ‘flexibility’ the qualifying period for unfair dismissal has been increased, employment tribunal fees introduced and redundancy consultation periods reduced, the list goes on.
Action on job security is a priority concern across the political spectrum, but Conservative voters rate it even more highly than Labour – as Labour voters rate pay as their top issue.
Yet the Government is presiding over an insecure job bubble – temps accounted for nearly a third of the last quarter’s increase in employment. More than a quarter (29%) of new public sector recruits expect to be temps, when only 6.5% are at the moment (CIPD Labour Market Outlook).
Conservative voters are twice as likely to prioritise training for working people (13% vs Labour 6% – again due to Labour voters prioritising action on pay), yet during the recession public sector employers, where Government has most influence, have been more than twice as likely than those in the private sector to reduce expenditure on training (WERS).
The picture across the country is of many workplaces that have survived the recession taking some form of action directly impacting the wages, hours, organisation of work or job security of their staff. The recession has made the workplace a less fair place to be. This has shifted the centre ground underneath the feet of the Government, and its 1980s narrative that deregulation will deliver full employment and quality jobs will not cut it.
Without action between unions, employers and government to provide upward pressure on wages and job quality, even a strong recovery will leave working people behind.
Dan Whittle is Director of Unions21
On March 8th the Unions21 Fair Work Commission first report will put forward fresh thinking on power, pay, progression and justice at work to get the debate going on what action we need to take. For more information about the launch event and how to register click here.