How Kirklees Council is supporting low-paid workers in multiple jobs

Dr Jo McBride, Durham University, Clr Erin Hill and Dr Andrew Smith, Bradford University following the adoption of the motion supporting forgotten workers by Kirklees Council.
Dr Jo McBride, Durham University, Clr Erin Hill and Dr Andrew Smith, Bradford University following the adoption of the motion supporting forgotten workers by Kirklees Council.

Parties from across the political spectrum have come together in Kirklees to back a motion on supporting low-paid workers in multiple jobs.

It followed a presentation by academics from Bradford and Durham on “forgotten workers”, which highlighted cases of often highly-qualified people living in abject poverty and struggling to feed their young.

Kirklees’ pledge to support low-paid workers in multiple jobs makes it the first council in the country to do so. Members voted unanimously in favour.

Councillor Erin Hill (Lab, Crosland Moor and Netherton), who proposed the motion, said she was “incredibly pleased” that it had been adopted but “ashamed that it was necessary”.

Councillors listened in silence as Dr Andrew Smith (Bradford University) and Dr Jo McBride (Durham University) outlined their research, a report entitled Forgotten Workers.

In backing the motion members accepted the recommendations of the report, which has highlighted some shocking situations across West Yorkshire including:

People with Masters degrees working three or four low-paid, zero-hour jobs to keep a roof over their heads.

Care workers, looking after vulnerable elderly people, who do not earn enough to keep the lights on.

Cleaners and dinner ladies who get two or three hours sleep a night before getting up to go to a fourth job.

One woman who was interviewed talked movingly about only having half an hour a day to spend with her daughter, when they were both tired, saying ‘I miss my daughter and she misses me’.

Coun Hill said: “All these people were very proud of working, with a strong work ethic but our society has forgotten them and decided they are not worth even enough money to cover the minimum in life.

“The report has thrown up an absolutely shocking picture of what life is like for some of our most vulnerable workers in Kirklees – and of an endemic problem in society, not just in one area or one industry.

“This is the beginning and not the end for us in Kirklees.

“We have committed to prioritise these workers and made a stand that such appalling circumstances are not acceptable in our district.”

The Forgotten Workers motion commits Kirklees Council to: paying an affordable living wage, guaranteeing all employees fair treatment and dignity at work regardless of length of service, and reporting back within the next two months with a plan to support people trapped in the cycle of multiple employment and poverty.