Labour goes crackers over pay disgrace
Wednesday 18 December 1996
Boots the chemist is supplied by women working at home as "sub-contractors" who earn just over 2p, while workers who are contracted to Fine Art Developments, which supply many high street retailers, receive around 1.5p. The National Group on Homeworking estimates that some people are paid considerably less than 1p.
Ian McCartney, Labour's chief employment spokesman, said the wage rates were not high enough to be portrayed as poverty wages. "This is slave labour," he said. "Scrooge simply isn't a character in Dickens, the tragedy is that he actually exists. The pay of homeworkers is a disgrace. I wonder how many people who are buying their Christmas crackers in high street stores realise how little the people who are making them are paid."
Mr McCartney said that under a Labour government a statutory national minimum wage would include homeworkers for whom pay is difficult to police.
Denise McKenna, acting co-ordinator of the National Group on Homeworking, said the amount of money paid to workers who supplied Boots was at the top of the range. "Many are paid far less. One company pays pounds 8 for 1,000 Christmas crackers. If you are desperate for money you will work for virtually nothing," she said.
A spokeswoman for Boots pointed out that the retail price included materials, transport and retail costs. In a letter to Mr McCartney from Jayne Mayled, head of customer services at the company, she insisted that the flexibility offered to workers was often very attractive to those with family responsibilities.
"This method of working is particularly suitable for the domestic arrangements of a number of people as it provides them with an opportunity to earn money whilst continuing to look after their families at home and without the necessity to travel to and from a workplace."
Homeworkers making Boots crackers are supplied with a "kit" of components necessary to produce a batch of 1,800 crackers, for which they are paid between pounds 38.80 to pounds 49.60.
She said typical earnings per week ranged from pounds 25 to pounds 166 with one worker earning pounds 221. However, it should be emphasised that each home-worker could determine the amount of work he or she wished to undertake and therefore also the consequent renumeration.
A spokesman for Fine Art Developments said trials had shown that homeworkers were capable of earning pounds 6 an hour.
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Feminist quotes to inspire you on the International Women's Day
Oscar Pistorius trial first week: Never mind a media scrum – murder case becomes bizarre safari following the tracks of a wounded lion
International Women’s Day: 'When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch' - feminist quotes from female icons to inspire you
Malaysia Airlines plane: Oil slick is first sign that missing flight crashed into sea killing up to 239 on board
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 To those who can’t see the point of International Women’s Day: you are the very reason it exists
- 2 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 5 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because late wife Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...