Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/196/8126
Low Paid Say
We're worth more than £4.10 an hour
A minimum wage of at least £5 an hour as a step towards the European decency threshold of £7 an hour.
No exemptions. For an annual rise, linked to average earnings.
AN ELECTION is definitely in the offing. New Labour's Stephen Byers has announced that the national minimum wage will go up by 10% this October. Welcome as any rise will be for the lowest-paid workers, that's only about 40p an hour.
Steve Score, Leicester Socialist Party, and prospective Socialist Alliance candidate, Leicester West
The minimum wage, now £3.70 an hour, will rise to £4.10 an hour this autumn with a further tiny (10p) increase in October 2002. So in its first four years the minimum wage will have gone up by a measly 60p an hour from its starting rate of £3.60.
Compare that to the extravagant pay rises for fat cat bosses. Trevor Ball, chief executive of BSkyB, got paid £16.3 million last year. Someone on the new improved minimum wage working a 35-hoiir week would take 2,184 years to get that much!
This rise won't lift people out of the poverty trap. For many working families, most of any cash rise is taken away by benefit losses.
It's not until the hourly rate exceeds the European decency threshold of £7 an hour that low paid working families keep most of any wage increase. If New Labour were serious about ending poverty then that's the level it should be.
18-21 year-olds, at present on £3.20 an hour, won't get their wages reviewed until next May. Younger workers are not protected by any minimum wage laws.
Enforcement of the minimum wage is too weak. Leicester city council wants the Inland Revenue to conduct spot cheeks on employers. New Labour should have done that from day one!
Workers, particularly in low-paying sectors such as the textile industry, can't understand why only a tiny proportion of employers who pay below the minimum wage have been prosecuted.
This government has a £40 billion budget surplus in its election chest but it's more interested in cosying up to business than defending workers and raising living standards.
The fat cats tell us they can't afford it, yet top executives had an average pay rise of 17.6% last year!
In The Socialist 9 March 2001: