// One in four supermarket workers have said they are missing meals every month in order to afford their bills
// Seven in ten of those surveyed said they have relied on insecure borrowing to cover household costs
One in four supermarket workers have said they are skipping meals each month to meet bill payments, according to research by Usdaw.
This figure has leapt from 1 in 20 last year, as Britain’s lowest paid workers struggle amid soaring energy prices and inflated goods as the cost of living crisis continues.
The survey of more than 5,500 retail staff revealed that petrol prices and travel costs are impacting the ability of nearly 50% of respondents to get to work.
Bank of England has predicted that inflation will soar past 13% in October as it hikes interest rate to 1.75% and warns of UK recession.
Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis has accused ministers of offering “only sticking plasters” in response to the crisis.
Seven in ten of those surveyed said they have relied on insecure borrowing to cover household costs, with 60% of that group reporting they have subsequently struggled with repayments.
One survey respondent told Usdaw: “I live alone and have no family to rely on, so feel really desperate, I have nobody to turn to for help.” Another said: “Too many threatening letters, I can’t cope anymore, there is nothing left to pay them.”
Another retail worker explained: “I have two jobs, as one wouldn’t pay the bills. I work 7 days a week at the moment, I’ve got a stretch of 84 days before my next day off. It’s heart-breaking.” A fourth respondent said: “Can’t afford to live. I’m a single parent off sick with breast cancer.”
Lillis declared that the survey “lays bare the struggle low-paid workers are experiencing just to make ends meet”.
He said: “Many respondents talked of how increased fuel prices were leading them to cut down on shifts, to ask for a transfer to a store closer to home or even to consider leaving work altogether.
He called for “significant increases in minimum wage rates and fundamental reforms to end insecure work.”
Usdaw is calling for a new deal for workers, including a minimum wage of at least £12 per hour as a step towards £15 per hour for all workers, a minimum contract of 16 hours per week for everyone who wants it and a ban on zero-hour contracts.
The union is also demanding better sick pay for all workers from day one, a “proper” social security system, as Universal Credit does not provide an “effective safety net” and increased job security, including day-one employment rights for unfair dismissal and “significant” improvements to redundancy protections.
Usdaw has highlighted the need for greater protection at work and respect for shopworkers and for workers to have a voice at work, including cracking down on employers who refuse to engage with trade unions and banning ‘fire and rehire’.
The union will be campaigning this weekend at street stalls across the country, calling on the government to take action to address the cost-of-living crisis.
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