Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Tackling Low Pay

More than a million workers, two thirds of them low paid women will benefit from a rise in the National Minimum Wage from £5.35 to £5.52 an hour from October, Alistair Darling Labour’s Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced today.

He has accepted the level recommended by the independent Low Pay Commission which will also mean increases from £4.45 to £4.60 for 18-21 year olds, and from £3.30 to £3.40 for 16-17 year olds.

Today's announcement means the minimum wage has gone up by almost 30% more than inflation since it was introduced in 1999, with the number of jobs increasing by almost 2 million in the same time. Since October last year the minimum wage for adults, combined with Working Tax credits and other benefits, has guaranteed an income of at least £268 a week for families with one child and one full-time worker.

Too few people remember what it things were like just ten years ago under the Tories. Then workers could be paid as little as 35p an hour, cleaners £1.30 an hour and security guards £2.25 an hour.

The announcement means the minimum wage has gone up by almost 30% more than inflation since 1999, with the number of jobs in the economy increasing by almost 2m in the same period.

3 comments:

Aeres said...

Very much agreed. The minimum wage is one of the successes of Labour coming to power in the last decade.

However, I really don't understand the different bands for the 16-17 year olds and the 18-21 year olds. Should everybody have the right to a decent wage regardless of age?

I'm not even sure how it can be legal as I (perhaps incorrectly - excuse my naivity if I'm wrong) thought age discrimination legislation had been brought in to.....well, stop age discrimination like this I guess.

Have I missed something?

Darlington Councillor said...

I agree Aeres.

Originally, the Minimum Wage applied only to those aged 18+, and it was in 2002 I think that it was extended to those aged 16+. At the time, the employers' unions protested that setting the level for those younger than 18 would prove ruinous to them. It was also thought that younger people face lower living costs than adults.

I am not persuaded of either argument. Employers and the Tories bleated about the loss of jobs in relation to the Minimum Wage before 1997, and yet the number of people in the UK has jumped significantly since it was introduced. Having worked with 16 and 17 year olds leaving care, I know the financial pressures young people face are every bit as severe as those aged 19, for example.

As I understand it, the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 specifically exempts the Minimum Wage banding by age. Not a happy situation, and one I hope will change in time.

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