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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  • The research team interviewed 341 low paid workers in four sectors of the London economy: contract cleaning on the London Underground and in offices and other services; hospitality work; home care; and the food processing industry.

  • Of 341 randomly selected low paid workers, an overwhelming 90% were migrants, a far higher proportion than has been found in previous research, and evidence of the very significant reliance of the London economy on migrant workers. Half were recent migrants having moved to the UK in the last 5 years.

  • Half of the respondents were born in Sub-Saharan Africa (notably, Ghana and Nigeria), 13% in Latin America and 9% in Eastern Europe. A total of 56 countries of origin were recorded, evidence of the 'super diversity' that is a characteristic of London's migrant population. 92% of people had migrated directly to London, rather than other parts of the UK, underlining the importance of London as a major centre for migration.

  • London’s low paid migrant workers had experienced high levels of de-skilling and downward social mobility, with almost half (49%) having acquired tertiary level qualifications before moving to the UK. Nor were all migrants young, or at the start of their working lives, with almost half in their 30s or older.

  • Although the search for work was the single most common reason for moving to the UK, a quarter moved to be with family, or to join friends and acquaintances, suggesting a process of 'chain migration'. For many, the UK was the most attractive destination because of its reputation as a tolerant and multicultural society.

  • Levels of pay were extremely low, with 90% of workers earning less than the Greater London Authority's Living Wage for London (£6.70 an hour). Average earnings were just £5.45 an hour - the equivalent of an average annual salary of £10,200 a year before tax and National Insurance. This is less than half the national average annual salary (£22,411) and less than one third of average earnings in London (£30,984).

  • People's conditions of employment were extremely poor. Over half the respondents worked unsociable hours (the early, late or nightshift), with two-fifths working overtime in an effort to increase their earnings. Three quarters of those working overtime were paid the same rate as for their other work.

  • Only a minority of workers received benefits. Three-fifths of workers received no maternity or paternity leave from their employers, half had no annual pay rise and a third had never had a pay rise. Half of all workers lost pay for taking time off for emergencies, and just over half (52%) did not receive sick pay. As many as 67% of respondents received only the statutory minimum number, or fewer, of paid holiday days. Over two thirds (70%) had no access to a company pension scheme.

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