This is why unions are calling for 'scandalously low paid' key workers in Mansfield and Ashfield to get cash bonuses

Almost a third of Mansfield and Ashfield’s workforce are key workers, new figures show.

Friday, 5th June 2020, 10:04 am

Leading trade unions say critical workers across the UK are risking their health for the public good but remain ‘scandalously’ low paid.

Key workers are those seen as essential to the coronavirus response, and include health and social care staff, delivery drivers, supermarket employees and many others.

Mansfield was home to 16,000 key workers in 2019, Office for National Statistics figures show.

Unions are calling for key workers to get cash bonuses for their efforts during the Covid-19 crisis. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

This is equal to 32 per cent of the area’s workforce – slightly below the UK average of 33 per cent.

Ashfield, meanwhile, was home to 19,000 key workers in 2019 – 29 per cent of the area’s workforce.

A separate analysis by jobs website Check-a-Salary shows the average salary for a full-time key worker in Nottinghamshire is £30,735.

That is higher than the £19,344 that would be received working 40 hours per week at the real Living Wage of £9.30 per hour, which is set by the Living Wage Foundation.

But the analysis also shows the lowest ten per cent of earners take home an average of £19,674, while the lowest paid key workers, waste collectors, earn an average of just £17,798.

The Trades Union Congress says around 40 per cent of key workers across the country are paid less than £10 an hour, compared to just 30 per cent of non-key workers, with general secretary Frances O’Grady saying they now deserve a pay rise as a thank you for keeping Britain going through the pandemic.

She said: “Frontline workers are putting their own health on the line to look after the rest of us.

"They are caring for the sick and vulnerable, getting us to work, keeping our shelves stocked and our vital services running.

“Now it’s time for ministers to give key workers a proper thank you.

“And that means getting money into their pockets now.”

There are 10.6 million key workers across the UK, in a workforce of 32.6 million.

The largest proportion of key workers in the East Midlands and across the country are those in health and social care, making up 11 per cent of the workforce in the region.

The GMB union is calling for a coronavirus crisis allowance to be paid to all front-line workers, which would provide an additional payment to boost their wages.

Rehana Azam, GMB national secretary, said: “This crisis has shown everyone just how crucial so many workers are fighting this pandemic.

"Yet far too many remain scandalously low paid despite being crucial to our health, safety and well-being.

“Millions of key workers are risking their health for the public good and they shouldn’t be going home to their families with poverty pay in their purses and pockets.”

A petition by Citizens UK is calling for all key workers to be paid the Living Wage of £9.30 per hour outside of London and £10.75 per hour in London, including a £1.4 billion boost to care sector salaries.

A Government spokesman said millions of employees, including key workers, will have benefitted from an increase to the minimum wage at the start of April.

He added: “We recognise the outstanding work being done by key workers up and down the UK in response to the current crisis.

“We have provided £3.2 billion to local authorities to address covid-19 pressures, including adult social care.

“We remain committed to helping hard working individuals earn more whilst levelling up this country.”