Posted Under: Poverty
The government’s decision to extend VAT to hot pasties has enabled chain store Greggs to represent itself as champion of the working poor.
‘At a time when ordinary, hard-working people are under enormous pressure, they need help in making their money go as far as possible”, the company’s compassionate chief executive Keith McMeikan remarked.
Unfortunately, there is a lot more to poverty than the price of pasties. Indeed, a rather important factor is the tendency of very profitable companies to force “ordinary, hardworking people” to make do with wages which they cannot live on. Despite recording record profits in recent years, Greggs pays its shop assistants just £6.70 per hour – significantly below the living wage.
What’s more, young workers are super-exploited. Under 18s start on just £5.52 per hour, rising to £5.75 after training. And this is in return for what the company acknowledges are “long and physically demanding” shifts, many of which start at 7:00 am. Presumably, compassion chief exec McMeikan does not believe that these particular “ordinary, hardworking people” deserve any better.
Not long ago Ed Miliband and Ed Balls demonstrated their support for the pasty cause by taking lunch at Greggs. Did these high representatives of Britain’s labour movement bother to ask the person making them lunch how much they were paid for their efforts? I would guess that the answer is probably negative.
By all means, let’s oppose the pasty tax – undoubtedly a regressive tax move. But while we are at it, let’s demand that Greggs pays its ordinary, hardworking employees a living wage.
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