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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 October 2011

Low pay, no way!

The most recent increase in the minimum wage was pitiful in the face of the rocketing cost of living. For example, the minimum wage for under 18 year olds was only increased by 4p an hour to 3.68. Many were therefore outraged at big business representatives who claimed that the increase was 'too much' and that it would mean companies are unable to hire young people. Youth Fight for Jobs rejects that young people have to choose between unemployment and low pay.

Here Dave Tompkins and Emma Woodhall examine the scandal of low pay.

As the Jarrow March comes through the East Midlands many young people in the region will be asking questions, not just about unemployment but also the conditions faced by those who are 'lucky enough' to have a job.

Of course, the divide between those in work or out of it has nothing to do with luck or in many cases even merit. Politicians and bosses try to divide people on the basis of who is in work and who isn't, just like they try to divide them on the basis of age to undermine solidarity and demonise the unemployed.

Young workers are often the most exploited in a workforce. Often this is due to the fact that they are not unionised - meaning that they are less aware of what few rights they have. The huge propaganda campaigns by big businesses and their media outlets against trade unions mean that many people have grown up with no understanding of collective action.

Poverty levels

Of all the problems facing young workers, one of the most glaring is low pay. When Labour introduced the minimum wage they introduced it with three tiers. One level of pay for 16-17 year olds, another for 18-20 year olds (currently 4.98) and the highest for those over 21 (currently 6.08).

While the minimum wage is pitifully low for all age groups it is a scandal that it is legal for employers to pay young people less than others doing the same job.

Being paid less than other workers has no logical reasoning behind it other than basic cost-cutting by bosses. It can lead to tensions in the workforce as resentment grows towards those on higher pay or to younger people brought in because it is cheaper for the bosses.

Low pay is also a potentially humiliating experience that can lead to crippling poverty which reinforces other problems faced by young people such as a lack of housing.

Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) has always had an increase in the minimum wage and an end to pay discrimination among its central policies.

YFJ activists realise that ending unemployment is not enough, young people must fight for decent jobs with trade union rights and decent pay and conditions or else a whole generation will be consigned to poverty whether they have a job or not.

YFJ stands for

A massive government scheme to create socially useful jobs and apprenticeships which pay at least the minimum wage (with no youth exemptions) and offer guaranteed jobs at the end

When private bosses claim they can't afford to maintain jobs, they must open their books so we can see where the money has gone

Huge investment in public services and the nationalisation under democratic control of companies threatening closure or paying poverty wages

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In The Socialist 12 October 2011:

Socialist Party youth and students

Interview with a Jarrow marcher

Marching in the footsteps of history

Low pay, no way!

Protest, demonstrate, occupy

International socialist news and analysis

US: Occupy Wall Street - Demanding jobs not cuts

Socialist Party workplace news

Strike on 30 November - no secret talks

'We have not gone away' say Southampton council workers

Construction electricians

60 printers sacked as bosses make a million

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party news and analysis

Sovereign debt crisis, recession... No way out under capitalism

Cameron's big 'them and us' society

Fox takes cronyism to new level

Wales Assembly budget: Labour piles on the misery

Kinnock's bigotry

Con-Dems' policies increase poverty

Fast news

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

NHS protesters occupy Westminster Bridge

Health campaigners take Ascot by storm

Coventry by-election helps build socialist alternative to cuts

London elections - more support for TU/anti-cuts stand

Socialist Party fundraising

Socialism 2011 finance appeal

Socialist history

Battle of Cable Street 1936 - When workers stopped the fascists

The Socialist - readers' comments

Portrait of a pension pilferer


Home   |   The Socialist 12 October 2011   |   Join the Socialist Party

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