UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

UK Government calls for National Minimum Wage to wither on the vine

In a ministerial foreword to evidence submitted to the Low Pay Commission, the UK Government reiterates its commitment to the National Minimum Wage (NMW), but at the same time argues that NMW rates (currently only £6.19 for 21 and over) should be held down relative to earnings: ‘in order to reduce the ‘bite’ of the NMW, it would be necessary for the NMW to grow by less than average earnings’

Unsurprisingly the Con Dem's go on to make a special case for the pitiful youth rates (£2.65 for apprentices and £3.68 for under 18's) to be held down: 'all of the factors that suggest caution for the main adult NMW rate also apply to young people. And, there are extra reasons for the LPC to be cautious and moderate when recommending changes to the youth NMW rates'

This cynical attempt to erode the value of the minimum wage for millions of low paid workers, is a salutary reminder of how far the actuality of the NMW is from the trade union movement's original aspirations - which were for a NMW set at 'half of the male median wage and then progressively raised to two-thirds' - which today would stand at £6.62 rising to £8.82:

In recognition of the current woeful inadequacy of the NMW, UNISON National Officer Gavin Edwards makes an excellent case on the LabourList website for all workers to be paid a statutory Living Wage: 'we should be looking at this debate from the point of view of the private sector cleaner, living in a rural community, being paid poverty wages and working for an employer which will never receive the attention of a Living Wage campaign nor be tempted by an incentive system administered by a progressive local authority. This worker deserves to be paid a Living Wage just as much as any other. Yet, without a statutory Living Wage, we would essentially be condemning this person and their family to a life of poverty. That cannot be right.'
http://labourlist.org/2013/01/a-living-wage-for-all-should-be-labours-mission/ .

For UNISON's submission to the Low Pay Commission read here: