by Hugh Cullen and Michael Davidson • The Lothians branch of the SSP organised a demonstration at the Apple Store on Princes Street recently, demanding a £10-an-hour Living Wage for all their UK workers.
Apple, the richest company in the world, made $48billion profits last year yet staff get paid barely over the minimum wage and whistleblowers describe how they struggle to get by on part time contracts. With these massive profits and a new iPhone X retailing for £1,000, Apple have no excuse for poverty pay.
Scottish Socialist Party activists handed in a letter to store management and demonstrated outside the store to demand workers get ‘a bigger bite of the apple!’
Comrades displayed a 7 foot phone which broke down the costs of the new iPhone X; highlighting the low wages in sales and manufacture and the tax dodged on the massive profit margins.
Apple claims that £8-an-hour is a generous wage, yet the UK government figures show that £10-an-hour on a full-time contract is needed to get by.
Below that wage, workers qualify for top-up benefits like tax credits, housing benefit and free school meals to survive.
Therefore, the Scottish Socialist Party demands that all workers are paid £10-an-hour as anything less means that the state is subsidising slave wages.
Yet low pay is an epidemic that stretches far beyond Apple and even retail. Hospitality, care, agency, call centre and public sector workers are just some of the worst affected.
Hundreds of thousands of Scots earn the pitiful National Minimum Wage of £7.50-an-hour for over 25s (£5.60 for 18-20 year olds).
What’s worse is that according to the DWP, 579,000 workers didn’t even get paid this statutory Minimum Wage last year!
We are currently amid the worst real-terms decline in wages since records began 80 years ago, as they fail to meet rising rents, bills and public transport fares.
The crisis is exacerbated by widespread use of zero hour contracts that leave workers precariously employed with no guarantee of hours or even a job for the coming week.
Many workers now face the choice of living in destitution or taking on debt to get by. For a new generation of young workers, ambitions of owning a home or reaching a position of financial stability to consider raising a family seem impossible.
We asked Apple to set a benchmark for other employers by implementing a £10-an-hour Living Wage, yet we expect the Californian fat-cat bosses will not.
If the richest company on Earth won’t even pay a Living Wage voluntarily, then the government must step in with legislative changes to eradicate poverty pay and precarious contracts.
In a time where the UK’s economy has flat-lined (growth in the last quarter was only 0.4 per cent), changes like a real Living Wage that make working people richer are desperately needed to save jobs.
A £10-an-hour Living Wage will give us the buying power to save our local high streets and reinvigorate our economy.
Instead, the profits made at the expense of workers’ wages is syphoned off to the Caribbean and into the pockets of shareholders.
The SSP has been well received at our stalls on Princes Street and across the country as we demand better pay and conditions.
This is a major issue for Scots who are struggling to get by, especially around the festive period.
The Lothians branch of the SSP also continues to run four street stalls a week calling for a £10-an-hour Living Wage and they are growing more popular as workers continue to feel the pinch of poverty pay and seek bold alternatives.