MOTION PASSED AT GREEN PARTY CONFERENCE 6/9/2008
"British people work some of the longest hours in Europe, with some 3.6 million people regularly working more than 48 hours a week, yet 7 out of 10 people working over 48 hours per week say they would like to work fewer hours. For many however this is impossible, as they simply cannot afford to do so. Overwork is forcing workers into unhealthy lifestyles as they attempt to reconcile long working hours and family responsibilities, according to a report from the charity Working Families. Half of the parents surveyed were unhappy with their work and family
balance. A majority reported that work dominated their lives, and family life suffered as a result.
Working long hours also led to increased levels of stress, resulting in irritability, exhaustion and depression. At the same time, the gap between the most prosperous and the poorest in society has not been as great since the nineteen thirties. In 2006, around 4 million adult employees were paid less than £6.50 per hour. Two-thirds were women. 3.8 million children in Britain live in poverty. Since 1980 the poorest quintile of the population has experienced no growth in real arnings. Nearly twice as many people have relatively low incomes as 25 years ago.
The average total earnings of FTSE 100 chief executives have doubled over the last five years to a new record of £3.2 million. The top three per cent of the population own three times as much as the whole of the bottom half of the population.
Therefore, the Green Party will campaign:
A. for the immediate ending of the British opt-out of the European Working Time Directive;
B. for the National Minimum Wage level to be increased to come in line with the Council of Europe Decency Threshold, which is set at 60% of net national average earnings (this would currently mean a minimum wage of £8.17 per hour);
C. a new top rate of income tax to be levied on incomes over 10 times the National Minimum Wage"
NB Conference amended the motion to delete the following original para C.
"For maximum income limit of 10 times the National Minimum Wage, through the establishment of a 100% rate of income tax on taxable personal income above that level."