Guest blog from GMB, trade union

This is a guest blog from Martin Smith, National Organiser, and Eamon O’Hearn Large, National Officer, from the trade union GMB encouraging people to get along to the Vodafone demo near them on the 14th.

GMB is focussed on
making work pay, including paying the rent.

Photo credit: Hugo Michiels, Demotix

93% of new Housing Benefit claimants are from people in work as rents soar by 18% a year. Work simply does not pay the rent. Those with mortgages taken out during the height of the bubble live in fear of interest rate rises. Thousands live in fear of eviction through the bedroom tax.

Grasping landlords have exploited rising house prices and put rents up year on year knowing the Housing Benefit fund will pay. The Right to Buy scheme of the 1980s that provided for the cheap sell-off of council houses, the collapse in house building over the last 30 years, the promotion of the buy to let industry and the ending of any controls on rents, have all set the scene for this great rent robbery by landlords. Only landlords can cut rents and only rent controls will make them.

But welfare dependency is not limited to greedy landlords. GMB research confirms the Jospeh Rowntree Foundations calculation that most employers paying less than £10 per hour for a 40 hour week rely on the fact their workers will claim in work benefits to keep body and soul together. A huge subsidy from taxpayers to the profits of poverty wage employers and further proof that £7.65 an hour is a state subsidised wage not a “living wage”.

To add insult to injury many corporations addicted to taxpayer subsidies of their low pay are also those that engage the most in complex tax avoidance schemes. A new business model is emerging – combining tax dodging and wage dodging while holding taxpayers to ransom with threats to cut jobs and relocate abroad. Picking our pockets at work and at home.

Starbucks, Next, Amazon, Vodafone – the list is almost endless and part of building unions in these businesses is exposing their tax affairs to demand they give a greater share of their hidden off-shore profits to their workforce – and back to taxpayers to fund house building and public services.

The reality for many workers In the UK right now is that unemployment is being replaced by state-supported under-employment at a faster rate than ever, trapping millions in a revolving door between unemployment benefits and in work benefits. Jobs that were 40 hours a week and permanent are being split into zero hours or 4 hours a week casual contracts and workers sent to the dole office to claim in work benefits. For the 2.6 million workers who earn less than £6.80 an hour, the minimum wage has become a maximum wage – a ceiling on their aspirations rather than a floor on their wages. For the first time ever, most people classed as living in poverty come from working families.

Food banks and in-work benefits can keep body and soul together when pay packets aren’t enough to make ends meet. But only employers can make work pay and only trade unions can ensure they do.

encourages all members to get active and join their local Vodafone actions on
the 14

Join the national day of action against Vodafone on June 14th. Find your nearest action here, or organise your own.

See you on the streets.