Key workers should be given an immediate pay rise of at least £2 an hour, a leading trade union organisation has said.
The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) said the salary increase should be granted due to the vital role key workers are playing during the coronavirus crisis, and the subsequent challenges facing society.
It is urging employers and the Government to consider the increase for NHS workers, carers, other emergency workers, frontline council workers, school support staff, nursery workers, retail workers, transport employees, and contact centre and factory staff.
The STUC also wants the increase to apply to “unseen” public service workers – including those in the Government – while it says the statutory minimum wage should be increased to £10 per hour for all staff.
STUC general secretary Rozanne Foyer said: “We know that the priority of key workers across the country during this crisis is keeping others well, safe and supplied.
“But just because that it’s their priority, it doesn’t mean we should forget their needs.
“We need to reverse the long-term trend of undervaluing these heroes, and we need to start now.
“So many of these workers came into this crisis undervalued and underpaid.
“They are many of the same people who bore the brunt of the 2010 recession. More than half of them are women.
“We want to ensure that as we emerge from this current crisis, history does not repeat itself.”
Office for National Statistics data from 2019 highlighted by the STUC suggests a third of key workers earn £10 an hour or less.
Figures also show the typical key worker earns £1 an hour less than the typical earner in a non-key occupation – £12.26 compared to £13.26.
Ms Foyer hailed the weekly clap for carers on Thursday evenings to support health and care staff, but said “a real difference” could be made to staff by increasing their wages.
She added: “The country has shown great appreciation by clapping key workers’ magnificent commitment every Thursday, but we believe people want to go the extra mile for those workers and make sure they are able to pay the rent and the food bills they face.
“For many of these workers, particularly in the food sector, the UK Government could make a real difference by taking the first step of raising the living wage to £10.
“This basic minimum should apply to all workers, whatever their age.
“We will be meeting with the Scottish Government today to press that key workers whose work is directly or indirectly paid for through public funds should receive at least a £2 hourly uplift.
“We also want them to join with us in pressing the UK Government for that immediate minimum wage uplift to £10 and to make the fiscal commitment to raising pay.”