Retail union release cost of living survey 

The Usdaw survey highlights the impact on workers of the cost of living crisis.

A sign advertising a foodbank
Photo by Samuel Steele on Unsplash

The UK’s fifth largest trade union Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) has released the results of its latest cost of living survey.

The union are calling on voters to back Labour at the election in July, claiming three years of the Tories’ cost of living crisis have hit working people very hard and they continue to struggle to make ends meet.

The Usdaw survey of 6,689 key workers in the retail, pharmaceutical, funeral care, warehouse and distribution sectors, conducted during June 2024, found that:

  • Nearly three-quarters feel worse off than they were at the last general election in 2019.
  • 72% have struggled to pay energy bills, with a quarter of those struggling every month.
  • 62% have taken out loans to pay everyday bills and 45% of them are struggling to keep up with repayments. 

Some of the comments Usdaw members shared when completing the union’s survey include:

“My mortgage has gone up around £500 per month and energy costs are worse. I don’t have a social life and I’ve forgotten when I last had a holiday. Still nothing changes.” Retail worker, Southern England.

“The wage I am on is barely enough to keep my family and I from poverty. There should be stronger controls over energy company charges.” Warehouse worker, Scotland.

“I have taken on a second job. My husband works the best part of 60+ hours a week in order to survive financially. Our work/life balance is way off.” Funeral industry worker, Northern England.

“Everything is more expensive and any small increase in wages doesn’t cover the difference. Fuel, food, electricity, heating, they cripple people. I haven’t been out for a meal in over two years because of this.” Retail worker, Northern Ireland.

“Struggling. Especially having been poorly and only receiving Statutory Sick Pay. I live on my own, so worry a lot.” Pharmacy worker, Midlands.

“Living costs too much. Surviving, just, but struggling to see the point in surviving right now.” Retail worker, Wales.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary said: “It continues to be shocking to hear the testimonies of our members who have been severely impacted by the Conservative cost of living crisis. It should be a matter of great shame for the Tories that three-quarters of our members, key workers serving our communities, feel worse off than they were at the last election. This Government has failed and that is why we need a change.

“Too many of the workers we rely on for our essential services are struggling on poverty pay, with weak employment rights and insecure jobs. Those are the key factors that make it so hard for them to keep up with sky-rocketing prices on fundamentals like food, housing, energy and fuel.

“That is why we need a Labour Government to deliver the change our members are desperately looking for. Labour’s plan to make work pay with a new deal for workers will tackle in-work poverty with a real living wage that takes account of rising prices to be the statutory minimum, the right to have a contract that reflects normal working hours to make jobs more secure, and support for workers by strengthening their collective voice through trade unions. These transformational policies will only be delivered if we vote for a Labour Government on 4th July.”

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK’s fifth biggest trade union with around 360,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades

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