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Plymouth is one place where people will welcome its campaign for working class unity, says TUC South West.
According to the trade union federation, there is considerable evidence that working class families have been left behind and ignored by the government as austerity cut deep into the heart of Plymouth's communities.    

TUC research found that graduates with parents in professional jobs are more than twice as likely as working-class graduates to start on a high salary, no matter what degree level they attain.  

The findings echo research from the government’s own Social Mobility Commission that found that even when people from working-class backgrounds enter professional occupations, they earn on average 17 per cent less than more privileged colleagues. 

Unemployment in Plymouth is low but the quality of jobs is poor and insecure.

This is in contrast to the days when the docks dominated employment in Plymouth and where unions won better conditions. 

In addition, pay still lags behind a decade after the economic crash.  Recent TUC analysis found that Plymouth workers today earn £43 less each week in real terms than they did in 2008.  

Nigel Costley, TUC Regional Secretary in the South West said:  

“Plymouth has a proud tradition of working class communities standing up for themselves. But we have had years of austerity, frozen pay in real terms and a distant government that doesn’t seem to care. 
“We need to restore faith that working people can come together at work or in their neighbourhoods to fight back. 
“We have millionaires trying to divide workers, telling them that the problem is foreigners or the very establishment to which they belong. 

“And the despicable comments by a millionaire toff, Jacob Rees-Mogg implying that Grenfell Tower residents died because they weren’t as clever as he is just shows the class division between the ruling elite in Britain and ordinary people. 

“If you’re from a working-class family, the odds are stacked against you. You face barriers because of where you come from, what your parents do, how you speak, or which school you went to.  

“Britain is still blighted by old-fashioned snobbery, inflated egos and a sense of entitlement. We need to restore a better balance at work for workers and we need to tackle class discrimination to allow people to flourish from whatever their birth or background.” 

Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council said: 

“Plymouth is a working class city and proud of it. Plymouth’s DNA is Dockyard, Navy and Argyll. 

“It has been the working class of Plymouth that has kept the nation safe – on ships and on shore. 

“Three-quarters of Plymouth people live in ABC homes for Council Tax. 

“We are the unknown manufacturing centre with 13% marine production in Plymouth. We are a city of makers.” 

But austerity has held the City Council back from helping working people deal with the financial squeeze they have faced. 

Evans explained:  

“The Council employs less gardeners, less road sweepers, less professional staff. Cuts have not just been to the Council but to the local economy of Plymouth”. 

The TUC is calling for new legislation to: 

  • Make discrimination on the basis of class unlawful, just like race, sex and disability. 

  • Introduce a legal duty on public bodies to make tackling all forms of inequality a priority. 

  • Make it compulsory for employers to report their class pay gaps. 

Editors note

- TUC’s Building working class power report can be read and downloaded here:  

The report found:  

  • Working class families have been hit hard by the pay crisis that started after the financial crash: Seven million employees in working class jobs have seen their pay flatline over the decade, while the highest earners have seen pay rises. 

  • A decade of austerity has had a disproportionate impact on working class families: for families on less than average earnings, cuts to public services over the last decade have been worth over five percent of their annual incomes – compared to less than one per cent for above average earners. 

  • Discrimination based on class background is still prevalent in the workplace today: TUC analysis shows that graduates with parents in ‘professional and routine’ jobs are more than twice as likely as working-class graduates to start on a high salary, no matter what degree level they attain. 

- Real wages losses per local authority in the South West can be found here:  


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