MORE than one in five Sunderland workers does not earn enough to live on, according to new research from the TUC.
Figures show more than 20 per cent of people across the city’s three parliamentary constituencies are paid less than the living wage – defined as the minimum hourly rate needed to provide for themselves and family.
Twenty-three per cent of employees in Sunderland Central take home less than the recommended minimum £7.85 an hour, while the rate is 20.6 per cent in Houghton and Sunderland South and 22 per cent in Washington and Sunderland West.
TUC analysis shows one in five jobs nationwide pays under the living wage – leaving more than five million people on less than subsistence pay.
In the North East, the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency tops the list of living wage blackspots, followed by Hartlepool, Berwick, Newcastle North and North West Durham.
Northern TUC Regional Secretary Beth Farhat said: “These figures show that huge numbers of working people in the North East are struggling to bring home a wage they can live off.
“Extending the living wage is a vital step towards tackling the growing problem of in-work poverty in parts of the North East – and Britain as a whole.
“Working families have experienced the biggest squeeze on their living standards since Victorian times, and these living wage figures show that women are disproportionately affected.
“Pay has been squeezed at all levels below the boardroom, and the government’s mantra about ‘making work pay’ is completely out of touch with reality.
“The number of living wage employers is growing rapidly and unions are playing their part in encouraging more employers to sign up and pay it.
“But we need to see a far wider commitment to pay the living wage from government, employers and modern wages councils – to drive up productivity and set higher minimum rates in industries where employers can afford to pay their staff more.”