News Updates: Britain “sacrificing pay for jobs”

News Updates: Britain “sacrificing pay for jobs”

Author Note: Harry Blain is the editor-in-chief of the 99% Campaign Youth and precarity The end of January was significant in many ways for young people across Europe. The victory of Syriza in Greece – a coalition whose traditional base is in Greek youth – has given cause for hope that European economies can be reshaped away from austerity and, instead, towards a more socially conscious model. Precarious Europe wrote: “The European landscape is about to change. This result shows us just how quick that change can be. We have still to see whether they will win. But this is for certain: the precariat is striking back.” The “precariat” is a term that has come to represent a large demographic across Europe: people who are consistently underemployed, overqualified, and without strong collective bargaining rights. Young people make up a high proportion of this “class”, including many graduates who find that their creativity and intellect is largely being stifled in an environment of shelf-stacking, low wages and – in the case of Britain – zero-hours contracts. Indeed, Larry Elliott, the Guardian’s economics editor, summarised Britain’s particular situation concisely. Britain, he wrote, has “sacrificed pay for jobs” as “a record number of Britons are in work but the average worker is poorer than before 2008.” With wages “1% lower in the third quarter of 2014 than in the same period 13 years earlier after taking inflation into account”, an Institute for Fiscal Studies report highlights how the burden has not been shared equally: “During the 2009-11 period, when wage declines were most pronounced, the earnings of 22- to 29-year-olds fell by...