The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has launched a new campaign called 'Fair Pay Fortnight' in an attempt to raise awareness of the huge wage inequalities that have developed in the UK.
The fortnight will run from Monday 24th March to Sunday 6th April 2014 and will see numerous events held up and down the country calling for action to reverse the trend.
According to the TUC, "working people in the UK are seeing their living standards squeezed harder and harder every year." It points out that "the cost of energy, food and housing is soaring but wages aren’t keeping up."
It also claims that although job opportunities may be increasing as the economy improves, they are often "low paid, low hours and low security. That’s why we’re running Fair Pay Fortnight and that’s why Britain needs a pay rise."
The start of Fair Pay Fortnight coincides with the publication of a study conducted by the TUC which uses figures from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.
The study has revealed that from the year 2000 to the end of 2013, there has been a 14 per cent rise in the pay gap between the bottom ten per cent earners and the top ten per cent earners in London.
Nationally the pay gap has risen by 5 per cent. The only areas which have seen a reduction in the pay gap are the South West and Wales. However, the TUC believes the lessening of the margins here is not due to the bottom ten percent earning more, but is instead explained by the fact that the top earners in these areas aren't doing as well as top earners in other parts of the country.
London, not surprisingly, is way out in front in terms of highest earners. The top ten percent in London earn on average £82,000 a year. The South East and East of England earn £57,000 and £52,000 respectively.
To put the disparity between the regions into perspective, the top ten per cent in Wales earn £43,000 a year, which is almost half that of London.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady, commenting on these figures, said: “This new analysis shows how wage inequality has soared in parts of the UK over the last decade. This growing pay gap is bad news for our economy and bad news for living standards."
She continued, stressing that although the problem of wage inequality was particularly bad in London and the South East, in “areas like the Midlands, the North West and the East of England a significant gulf has developed between top and bottom earners."
She fears that this problem will become "entrenched" without the creation of "more high-skilled jobs with decent pay."
One solution she puts forward is the introduction of a living wage: "The TUC wants to see a greater commitment to pay the living wage from both government and employers, a crackdown on excessive executive pay, and modern wages councils which could set higher minimum wages where employers can afford to pay more."
Hopefully Fair Play Fortnight will encourage workers to compel their MPs to put the subject of decent pay at the very top of the political debate before the next election.