By Polly Toynbee Nov 19, 2019
In the dying days of the 2010 general election, too late, far too late, one event electrified the campaign. Citizens UK, the living wage community organisers, held a leaders’ hustings under the high dome of London’s Methodist Central Hall. In a heart-stopping moment, a 14-year-old girl, Tia Sanchez, stepped up to the lectern and told of the hardship of her family’s life.
She pointed out two women: “This is my mum, Sandra, and my grandmother, Marta.” Then the bombshell dropped. “They work as cleaners in the Treasury.” They had cleaned Gordon Brown’s office when he was chancellor, for an outsourced to a private firm that paid poverty wages. She said what a difference a living wage would make. “I might get a laptop I need for homework. We wouldn’t have weeks where we just eat lentils. My mum could afford to take the tube instead of three buses, and I would have three more hours of her time a day.”