Three million working people in Britain are in jobs that don't pay enough to get by, official figures confirmed today.
Trade unionists pulled no punches after the Office for National Statistics revealed that around a million more people are now underemployed - such as part-time workers seeking a full-time job - than when the financial crisis began in 2008.
Almost two-thirds of Britain's underemployed are languishing in part-time jobs, with the most precarious positions among cleaners, caterers and labourers.
On average an underemployed worker earns just £7.49 an hour.
The ONS figures undermine Tory PM David Cameron's claim that the Con-Dems were "finally going to make work pay" by slashing benefits and forcing people onto its failed workfare scheme.
Earlier this week DWP figures revealed that just 3.5 per cent of jobseekers drafted into unpaid labour under the Work Programme had found any form of employment for six months or more.
But unions said today that the figures showed that for many people with a job being in work barely paid at all.
Construction union Ucatt's general secretary Steve Murphy said construction workers were increasingly only offered short-term work and temporary lay-offs.
"The scarcity of construction work due to the government's cuts means workers also frequently experience periods of unemployment, when one job finishes, while they search for further work."
The TUC's general secretary Brendan Barber said it was clear that Britain's headline figure of 2.5 million jobless only told half the story of the crisis facing ordinary people.
"Being underemployed carries a huge pay penalty that puts a real strain on people's finances," he said.
"Long periods of underemployment can cause longer-term career damage, which is particularly worrying for the one in five young people currently trapped in it."
His Scottish TUC counterpart Grahame Smith added that Scotland's own rate of underemployment was now 9.9 per cent.
There was now "no excuse" for the Con-Dems and their allies to dodge the debate, he said.
And Unison assistant general secretary Karen Jennings said: "We desperately need people to be out spending to fuel a real recovery.
"The government should intervene - creating jobs by investing in infrastructure and ending the public-sector pay freeze to put money in people's pockets.
"The alternative is to allow our economy to carry on falling into a triple dip recession."
But a spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions claimed that most part-time workers were content.
"For many people it is an important step to full-time work and coming off benefits," she suggested.
Earlier this month the Morning Star detailed an ever-swelling reserve army of labour in the wake of the financial crisis.
Two-thirds of new hires in the past year are part-time, with the average part-timer working just 18 hours a week.
Around 865,000 more people are out of work than before the bankers' crisis began in 2007.
The number of people in full-time jobs has fallen by 399,000, while the number in part-time employment has increased by 713,000.
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