(23 July 2020) EPSU and affiliates have long pointed out that many workers in those services that kept our societies going during the pandemic were undervalued and underpaid. Recent research of the WageIndicator project based on data from France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and UK confirms this. It calls for improved pay and conditions for those workers.
The survey considered data for a number of key occupations like child-care worker; call centre agent; hospital nurse (including intensive care and recovery nurse); truck mechanic and others. The key finding was that “more than half the workers in all essential occupations are, (…) earning below their national average wage”. The authors note the gap between the applause and the labour market reality for many of those workers. They point to the long-standing issues surrounding job security and work intensity. The authors estimate for 2019 that between 20% and 25% of workers in thirteen key occupations were employed on temporary or zero-hours contracts. These precarious contracts do not square with the value society has recently ascribed to these workers.
The researchers point out that contributing factors to the low pay have been privatisation and outsourcing weakening collective bargaining protection as well as the many years of austerity policies.
See also: She works hard for the money on low pay in sectors dominated by women
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