West Ham MP Lyn Brown urges us to make our vote count next May


- Credit: Archant

In less than six months we face the most important general election for a generation. Do we want a society and economy that work for ordinary people, or a country that’s increasingly unequal, unjust and unfair?

Where is the economic recovery Cameron talks up so much? People tell me they constantly worry about their jobs, wages and the future. A third of Newham residents aren’t paid a living wage, the highest proportion in London. The last four years have seen an explosion in low pay, zero-hour contracts and insecure, part-time work and an extraordinary fall in living standards; wages are down and working families are £974 worse off every year.

A hundred years ago, my grandfather stood each morning as ‘lump labour’ on the dock-gate stones, hoping and praying for enough work to feed his family that day. In 2014, just as then, millions of people wake up not knowing whether they’ll work today. The exploitation of zero-hour contracts is scandalous. Bradley and his family live in a one-bed property in Stratford. He works 52 hours a week to earn the minimum wage and claim working tax credit. Not only is he not paid enough, he worries how stable his job is. All his work comes through an agency, with no long-term job security. He wants to treat his son occasionally, but barely keeps a roof over their heads, with enough to eat. He asks: “If you work for minimum wage, how do you pay your rent?” There are millions like Bradley in Britain today. Rents spiral out of control and the minimum wage’s real value has dwindled.

Labour will make Britain work every day, for everyday people, not just the privileged few. We will outlaw exploitation of zero-hour contracts. We will raise the Minimum Wage to £8 an hour by 2020 and encourage businesses to pay a Living Wage.

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