The latest global wage report from the International Labour Organisation reveals the main trends in pay and minimum wages, highlighting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of this year. It notes a downward pressure on the level or growth rate of average wages in two thirds of the countries for which recent data are available. In other countries, including France and Italy, average wages increased, largely artificially as a reflection of the substantial job losses among lower-paid workers. The report also shows that women workers and low-paid workers generally have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The ILO underlines the importance of the role of minimum wages in protecting workers and the importance of ensuring wider coverage and better enforcement. It also argues that sector collective bargaining is the best way “to re-evaluate the adequacy of wages in some mostly female-dominated low-paid sectors which have proved to be essential and of high social value during the current crisis.”
Global wage report reveals first impact of pandemic on pay
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Data from the Wage Indicator pay database covering five countries reveals that many of the key workers who have been on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 are on below)average wages. The research looked at nine jobs in childcare, call centres, retail, nursing, admin, logistics, warehouses and transport in the UK, German, Netherlands, France and Sweden. In the UK all occupations fell below the national average wage while in Germany it was all but one and in the Netherlands all but two. The situation for these workers was better in France and Sweden.
The SIPTU trade union has just published findings from a survey of early years professionals showing that 43% of childcare workers are actively seeking another job due to low pay levels in the sector. The findings also show that 90% of workers struggle to make ends meet, 77% have no work sick pay scheme and just 10% receive paid maternity leave from their employer. More than seven in 10 workers have found dealing with COVID stressful while just over nine in 10 would consider leaving the profession in the next five years if there are no improvements in pay and conditions.
The SIPTU union has called on the government to set a budget that includes a guaranteed living wage for all childcare workers along with a sick pay scheme. The living wage is €12.30 an hour while the average wage in the sector is €11.46 and the union argues that higher pay will be important in reducing the 40% staff turnover among childcare workers. SIPTU also points out that 79% of childcare workers don't have a sick pay scheme and this is inhibiting the sector's response to ensuring safe workplaces for both workers and children.