Last week’s headline news on pay confirmed what a lot of people in Sheffield already know.
Over the last eight years, real wages in the UK have fallen by more than 10 per cent – more than any advanced country except Greece.
We also heard that Yorkshire wages are the lowest in the country, with South Yorkshire lower still.
It’s not just wage levels. I’ve challenged the Government over illegal non-payment of travel time to care workers.
Recently I confronted Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley over the use of zero hours contracts for full-time workers in his Shirebrook distribution centre.
Too many people struggling to make ends meet in insecure jobs.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. Governments can make a difference. It’s about choices.
This Government has talked about the ‘northern powerhouse’, but failed to take action to create jobs in the north.
They have turned a blind eye to the abusive practices used by some employers to cut costs.
They have made ordinary people pay the price for the bankers crashing the economy in 2008.
At times like this, people look to Labour to provide a strong opposition – and an alternative Government.
They don’t just want to hear slogans. They want practical policies that can make a difference to their lives.
Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith showed how different things could be when he visited South Yorkshire last week.
He set out bold plans for change – a “British New Deal” investing £200 billion to bring jobs to our communities, Wage Councils to boost pay in low wage sectors, a halt to privatisation of the NHS and proper funding for it.
I’ve seen how effective Owen has been in Parliament.
As Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, he forced the Government into U-turns on cuts to disability benefits and tax credits for the low- paid. He stood up for people and won.
Here last week he set out a vision for rebuilding our economy and creating real jobs. He spoke like a future Labour Prime Minister.
Ballot papers will soon be going out for the Labour leadership contest.
Trade union members have a chance to vote too, by telling their union by August 8 that they want to cast a vote.
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