Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/207/8512
No To Low Pay
Break The Chains Of Poverty
LAST WEEK I met an 18-year-old girl who was on the same training course as me. Before she was 18 she worked in a sandwich bar opposite a Birmingham factory and was paid £2 an hour.
Clare Wilkins, Birmingham
She had to buy her apron out of her wages. This cost £25. Her take home pay was £30 a week, and out of this £9 was taken up getting to and from work.
When she got a job in the canteen at a large office, she worked six days a week and was over the moon to earn £130 a week. There is no minimum wage for under-18s and for under-21s it is £3.70 an hour.
The effect of this is to lower the expectations of young people about what they will earn.
This is a deliberate tactic to hold down the wages for ordinary workers. An ICM poll in last Sunday's Observer newspaper shows that 52% of high earners support Blair and only 17% Hague and the Tories.
This shows who New Labour are interested in. None of the main parties have anything to offer low-paid workers.
Only a minimum wage of over £7 an hour, which the European commission says is necessary to guarentee the basic requirements of life in Britain, can lift low-paid workers out of poverty.
A recent report by Mintel revealed that almost two thirds of 16- to 25- year-olds are now in debt - with nearly a quarter of 20- to 24-year-olds owing at least £3,000.
Britain has become an even less equal society during the last four years than it was under the Conservatives, according to the government's own annual Family Expenditure survey, with incomes amongst the richest 20% rising at 2.8% a year, double the rate of the poorest 20%.
LAST SATURDAY Leicester Socialist Party members and members of the Leicester Radical Alliance took to the streets campaigning for Socialist Party member Steve Score, Leicester West Socialist Alliance election candidate.
Campaigning on the issue of low pay, they made a big impact with plenty of placards and people wearing manacles and chains etc in front of a huge display with the slogan: "No to low pay: Break the chains of poverty".
In The Socialist 25 May 2001: