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The economy is rigged against working people – we need great jobs to rebalance it

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What matters in this election isn’t Workington man. It’s working families in places like Wigan and the North West.

Going to work should be a good, if not great, experience.

After all, it’s where many of us spend a lot of our time. Whether you’re looking after someone’s elderly relative as a care worker, the first responder to a fire or putting food on the shelves of the local supermarket, there’s value in all our work.

But increasingly, workers across the North West aren’t feeling like they’re being recognised. It’s easy to see why.

Recent TUC research shows that harassment at work is a problem, workers are experiencing the longest squeeze on pay in centuries and worrying about whether you’ve worked enough hours to pay the bills has become the norm.

Today we revealed that in parts of the North West over a third of employees are paid below the living wage .

All of this has contributed to record levels of household debt and an explosion in the use of foodbanks .

And government programmes like Universal Credit are only making things worse for people in desperate situations.

And it is desperate for some. Workers in our region are being forced to take action to win much needed changes.

Union members in outsourcing company Compass know all too well the impact of outsourcing. NHS workers in all but name, paid the minimum wage.

The low pay is bad enough. With few rights, the employer won’t offer the flexibility expected, workers are being forced to work at Christmas .

At Salford City College, teachers are having to take action to get the employer to pay already agreed rates of pay for the job.

And RMT are campaigning for a living wage for staff outsourced to Carlisle Security Services. These workers are the frontline, public face of Northern Rail, working on ticket barriers at your local train station.

They wear the Northern uniform and do the same job and same hours as Northern rail colleagues for less pay, whilst Northern and Carlisle call themselves living wage employers.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. These experiences are all too familiar for many workers.

The TUC is clear. It doesn’t have to be like this. Working families deserve better.

We’re seeing here in the North West how this can be done. Unions are working with Metro-Mayors in Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region to develop employment charters that establish a standard for good and fair employment.

Salford is becoming a living wage place and Preston is heralded for trying to make the local economy work for the local community.

This election is about how we make great jobs a reality for more workers. There are things a government that cares about working families should be doing.

Increasing the minimum wage to £10 per hour as soon as possible would mean people have enough to pay for life’s essentials.

Banning zero-hours contracts would end exploitative practices that stop people planning for the week ahead, let alone their future.

They should legislate so people can go to work free from harassment and worry about getting on rather than being targeted.

And they can make it easier for workers to have a voice at work.

Giving unions access to workplaces, so that we can work with our members, and employers – because yes, unions work well with employers despite what you hear in the media.

Doing this will take power away from those at the top and ensure that we get the great jobs we deserve.

This election is our chance to have an economy that works for working families.