Low Pay – No Way! Dorset’s campaign for justice at work
Dorset is seen as one of the most desirable places in the UK – green hills, thatched villages and a stunning coastline. But for many in the county there’s a different reality – chronically low wages, family poverty and social deprivation. Low Pay – No Way! tackles the crisis with a campaign for increased wages, justice at work and new resources for adults and young people. Low Pay – No Way! is a joint initiative by Weymouth and Portland Action on Wages (WeyPAW) and Dorset Trades Union Council (DTUC), with local union branches supporting workplace and community action.
It is a shocking fact that a third of children in Dorset live in poverty, with South Dorset ranking 533rd out of 533 parliamentary constituencies in England on the government’s Social Mobility Index, which measures the life chances of disadvantaged children. A former senior executive of Dorset County Council called this “Dorset’s Shame”.
Wednesday 5 February: Low Pay – No Way! launch at public meeting 7.00 pm in the Dorford Centre, 2 Bridport Rd, Dorchester DT1 1RR.
Tuesday 18 February: Low Pay – No Way! lobby of Dorset Council meeting 6pm at County Hall, Dorchester, DT1 1XJ
Why we need Low Pay – No Way!
According to the government’s Index of National Deprivation, 12 local areas in Dorset are within the top 20 per cent most deprived in the UK; of these, nine are in Weymouth and Portland, with several among the 10 per cent most deprived in the UK. The index combines measures relating to low income; exclusion from the labour market; lack of attainment and skills; health risks; crime; barriers to housing and services; and quality of the indoor and outdoor environment.
For thousands of people wages are desperately low: according to government figures, in 2017 Weymouth and Portland had the lowest average wages in the UK – at £283.40 a week. Living costs are high and rising. The average cost of a house in Dorset is 13 times annual income: the national average is eight times annual income. Weymouth and Portland, with chronically low wages, has the second-highest council tax in the UK (Band D, £2,100).
In South Dorset the economy is shrinking at an alarming rate. Between 2007 and 2017 the local economy in Weymouth and Portland contracted by 13 per cent – only one other coastal area in the UK had a worse record. Many people have been left with insecure, part-time seasonal jobs: over a quarter of all jobs in Purbeck and a quarter in Weymouth and Portland pay less than the Real Living Wage. Worst affected are women and young people.
Communities and trades unions campaigning together
Since 2017 WeyPAW has been campaigning against poverty wages and to promote wellbeing in South Dorset. Following its second annual conference, in September 2019, the organisation presented Dorset Council with policies to address problems of chronically low incomes, including tackling employers who violate the law on pay and conditions at work.
Trades Union Councils stand for workers’ rights, strong workplace organisation and the achievement of good wages and conditions through collective bargaining. Dorset TUC supports Low Pay – No Way! by linking up union members from a wide range of unions across the county to deliver a strong message of solidarity with the community. Together, WeyPAW and DTUC can campaign effectively over poverty pay, insecure jobs and exploitation.
What’s next for Low Pay – No Way!
The campaign will be launched formally on Wednesday 5 February 2020 with a public meeting at 7.00 pm in the Dorford Centre, 2 Bridport Rd, Dorchester DT1 1RR. The speaker will be Nigel Costley, Secretary of the South west Region Trades Union Council.
On Tuesday 18 February 2020, Low Pay – No Way! will be lobbying Dorset Council to demand urgent action over pay, employer compliance with the law and support for all those who need advice to address problems at work. Join us: 6pm at County Hall, Dorchester, DT1 1XJ.