A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
I don’t think anybody would disagree with that.
The notion that people in work are better off, are able to move away from poverty and provide a good living standard for themselves and their families seems obvious to me.
In an economy that works properly, people in work shouldn’t also be in poverty
The truth in modern-day Britain often doesn’t bear this principle out.
People in work are often struggling to make ends meet.
I am getting more and more people writing to me saying that they are doing the right thing, getting into work, but the wages they are able to receive don’t match the bills they have to pay for things like food, rent, energy or petrol.
More often than not, the people from our town who write to me about this subject are women.
Women are in many cases the bedrock of the town’s economy and of a family’s household budget.
Growing up in the town, I was surrounded in my family by women going out to work.
My mother working as a hairdresser at Gloria’s on Wynyard Road – that takes me back – and even now working behind the bar in the Borough Hall and Town Hall.
My nana, still missed, God bless her, worked for many years in the launderette on the Fens Shops.
My nana’s sister, Vera, working in Perry’s the television rental shop.
It was just natural to me, growing up, as with many in the town, that women in your family went out to work.
But women are writing to me in increasing numbers to express their concern, frustration and even fear about how their wages don’t match the bills.
This reflects the shape of Hartlepool’s wage market. More than half of the town’s women – almost 56 per cent – are paid below the living wage.
That’s the worst in the entire North-East. For every pound in wages that a man earns, a woman in Hartlepool working part-time earns just 66p.
This shows that there is a large concentration of women in low paid, part-time and often insecure work, not knowing what hours they will be able to work from one week to the next.
But I’m getting more and more nurses and other workers in the NHS writing to me saying that they can’t pay the bills, not having a pay rise for many years.
The Government’s rejection of a one per cent pay increase, set by an independent pay body, was an absolute insult.
I also think, that the notion of an increase in MPs’ pay, is ridiculous and shouldn’t go ahead.
Last Saturday in London and Glasgow, the TUC organised a mass rally to state that Britain deserves a pay rise.
Hartlepool was well represented by the Trades Union Council.
I think the trade unions have a strong case. People are seeing the biggest squeeze on their incomes since the Victorian times.
The Government frequently talks of an economy recovery.
But the people from Hartlepool writing to me are saying that they see no recovery at all, no rise in wages and increasingly have worries about money.
If there is a recovery, surely working people in Hartlepool should have an opportunity to share in any recovery by having a pay rise?
Low pay can be a real blight on people, producing the scandal of in-work poverty. Higher pay is good for all in the town, because people with more money in their pockets tend to spend it locally.
I think Hartlepool workers deserve a pay rise.