Spiralling number of rogue minimum wage firms reveals reality of insecure work, warns Unite

11th August, 2016 2:46 pm

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The list of rogue employers failing to pay the minimum wage is just “the tip of the iceberg”, according to Unite, which today warned that illegal levels of low pay risk becoming normal in Britain.

The Government’s “list of shame” of employers paying below the lowest level of legal pay was the longest ever, according to the update today. Some 198 companies owe £466,219 to their employees in arrears over the past year.

Football clubs, hairdressers, employment agencies, hotels and care homes were amongst those on the Government’s offenders list. The biggest debts were owed by San Lorenzo restaurant in West London, which owes 30 employees almost £100,000.

Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of Unite, said the increasingly insecure world of work meant there were almost certainly more people being underpaid who were afraid to speak out.

“This list of shame is an awful reflection of a desire by employers to scam workers which seems to be becoming part and parcel of modern day Britain,” he said,

“As the world of work has become more insecure and more exploitative, it is likely this list of shame is just the tip of the iceberg with workers too afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.

“The naming and shaming of employers by the government will not deter rogue employers from picking the pockets of workers, nor will it protect good employers from being tarnished with the same brush.

“The government and business must go further too and work with trade unions to halt the spiralling exploitation of workers in certain parts of the economy by introducing industry-wide minimum standards to bolster the minimum wage.”

Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith said he would deliver a “revolution” in workers’ rights to protect the lowest paid, who would disproportionately be women.

“What a roll call of dishonour this list provides. It’s disgraceful that employers are getting away with paying workers less than the minimum wage and the Tories clearly don’t care enough to take serious action.

“If Britain continues to have such terrible rights for workers these abuses will continue. And of the millions of people who suffer from low pay and insecurity in the workplace, it’s women who inevitably carry the biggest burden. That’s why as Labour leader I’d demand nothing short of a revolution in trade union and workplace rights, to deliver fairness and dignity for all working people.”

The publication of the list of offending employers follows revelations the number of workers paid below minimum has more than doubled, with the figure rising to 58,000 in 2015-2016, compared with 26,000 the year before.

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