Adam Powell-Davies, Socialist Party youth organiser
When the national minimum wage was announced last year to rise from £8.91 to £9.50, it was heralded by Tory ministers as one of the largest increases on record, at 6.6%.
But by the time the new minimum wage came into effect in April, it had already been outstripped by the rising cost of everything else: food, fuel, energy bills, increases to council tax and national insurance, and the rest. Since then, the situation has only got worse.
Workers face soaring costs on multiple fronts, but one thing that could most immediately help with all of these financial pressures is a pay rise.
For millions of workers, the cost-of-living crisis is in large part a low-wage crisis. No wonder so many workers are getting organised and striking for a pay rise.
That’s why the Socialist Party calls for a £15-an-hour minimum wage for all now, to subsequently rise in line with average earnings or inflation, whichever is higher.
This would give all low-paid workers a boost, but it would mean the most for young workers, who are more likely to fall into the lowest-paid and most precarious industries, such as hospitality and retail. This is especially true for workers under 23 years of age, who legally can be paid only a fraction of the so-called National ‘Living’ Wage.
As the bare minimum, £15 an hour should be just a starting point. But for the time being, it would give young workers a bit more money to branch out and feel a sense of freedom and independence for the first time.
For a start, we could afford to move out of our family homes, experience new things, or just get from A to B – including travelling to important protests like the TUC demo called in London on 18 June! And it’s why that demo must be only the start of the fightback we need.
Across the country, it’s clear that young people see the need to get active – but they need a lead.
The trade unions across the country should all strike together against the cost of living crisis, with £15 an hour as one of their main demands.
And we also need a political voice in the form of a new mass workers’ party, which can help spread workers’ demands and socialist ideas far and wide among the working class and young people.