Thursday, 25 March 2010

National Minimum Wage disgrace

The uprating of the National Minimum Wage was announced today, with a meagre 2.2% . Regular readers of the LEAP blog, may want to refer back to our February post 'Inflation, the minimum wage and the TUC' and then have a look at this TUC press release.

Under-21s miss out on decent wage increase

Morning Star
by Lizzie Cocker

Below-inflation increases to the national minimum wage were branded "an insult" by equalities campaigners on Thursday.

The announcement of new minimum wage rates sparked outrage after failing to bring pay for under-21s up to the same level as their older counterparts.

But the introduction of a statutory minimum wage for apprentices was broadly welcomed despite being set at just £2.50 an hour.

The Low Pay Commission which recommend the changes announced on Thursday that the guarantee of a wage for apprentices for the first time "marks an important extension to minimum-wage protection across the UK."

British Youth Council vice-chairman Jack Rowley agreed that it was a step in the right direction but said: "At just £2.50 per hour, young apprentices will struggle to cover their basic living costs while trying to complete their apprenticeship and could earn nearly £40 more a week in a standard minimum-wage job."

From October the minimum hourly rate for over-21s will go up 2.2 per cent to £5.93, but younger workers will continue to lose out on equal pay as the rate for 18-20 year olds will rise to £4.92 and £3.63 for 16-17-year-olds.

Left Economics Advisory Panel co-ordinator Andrew Fisher slammed the changes saying: "With inflation at over 3 per cent, this derisory change to the minimum wage should be called what it is - a real-terms cut. This is an insult to people struggling on low wages.

"Inflation tends to hit the poorest harder than other groups (see the LEAP Inflation Report, September 2009). By failing to scrap the discriminatory lower rates for young workers, the Low Pay Commission has again failed to tackle low pay."

And Mr Rowley said that young people across Britain were "upset about this continued discrimination" as they face record levels of unemployment and rising living costs.

"Sixteen and 17-year-olds can get paid over £80 a week less with these rates for doing exactly the same 35-hour week as 21-year-olds," he said.

The GMB also condemned pay discrimination based on age but generally welcomed the increases.

However the union pledged to "continue to campaign for a much higher rate of at least £7 to move the figures closer to a living wage."

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