ADDRESSING the party’s annual conference in Manchester yesterday, Labour leader Miliband pledged to increase the National Minimum Wage to £8 an hour over the course of the next parliament if it wins the general election.
At the same time Labour pledged a one per cent cut in business rates, which would save employers up to £1bn by 2016.
From October, the minimum wage will rise from £6.31 to £6.50. Miliband said the £1.50 per hour increase would be worth £60 a week, or £3,000 a year, for the lowest paid.
Welcoming the announcment, GMB General Secretary Paul Kenny said: ‘This is a welcome and necessary first step for workers to recover the nearly 15% drop in the value of earnings they suffered over the last six years.
‘It is important to shift the burden of dealing with low pay from taxpayers to the employers many of whom are sitting on record levels of cash and profits.
‘The transition must be real so that the increase is not paid with one hand and taken away with the other.’
Miliband told the Labour Party conference that his Plan for Britain’s Future will rebuild the link between working hard and sharing in our national wealth.
Miliband said: ‘Too many people are treading water, working harder and harder just to stay afloat.
‘Too many working people have made big sacrifices but in this recovery they are not seeing the rewards for their hard work because, under the Tories’ failing plan, the recovery is benefiting a privileged few far more than most families.
‘One in five of the men and women employed in Britain today do the hours, make their contribution, but find themselves on low pay. But if you work hard, you should be able to bring up your family with dignity.
‘From Perth to Portsmouth to Penzance working people are demanding to know if any political party can make a difference. I have heard that despair in Scotland and across the United Kingdom.
‘But this week, Labour’s Plan for Britain’s Future will show how we can change and how we can become a country that rewards hard work once again.
‘That’s why we have set out plans to raise the minimum wage by £1.50 an hour by 2020 to £8 an hour.’