Youth demand at least £10 an hour

Young workers in Unite and the Bakers’ Union fighting for the London Living Wage of £10.55

‘YOUNG workers are missing out on £200 million in minimum wage pay,’ the TUC says, while demanding at least £10 an hour regardless of age.

From yesterday, workers aged 25 and over on the National Living Wage will receive £8.21 an hour, up from £7.83.

However on the very same day, April 1st, like a bad April Fools joke, the cost of living soared, countering any minimal rise in wages.

  • Council tax or its equivalent, set by local authorities, is going up by an average of 4.5% and in some cases as much as 9%.
  • Gas or electricity prices for more than half of British households who are on variable or default tariffs, typically go up by £117 a year, now the cap on the cost has been raised.
  • The TV licence fee has gone up from £150.50 to £154.50 a year.
  • The standard NHS prescription charge in England, has risen from £8.90 to £9, although Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have abolished these fees.

Meanwhile, the amount young people are paid is much lower than older workers.

As of yesterday, those aged 25 or over will get a minimum of £8.21.

Ages 21-24 get £7.70 and 18-20-year-olds get £6.15.

Under 18s receive just £4.35 and apprentices get a mere £3.90 an hour.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Unions played a key role in winning the minimum wage at a time when many were warning that it would bankrupt the country.

‘But as we mark its 20th anniversary today, we can see there’s still more to be done.

‘Young workers are still getting a raw deal on pay. Their bills aren’t any cheaper, but they have to make ends meet with less. That’s just not fair.

‘And with in-work poverty rising, we need to make the minimum wage fit for the future by raising it to £10 as soon as possible.’

Catherine Chapman, from the Living Wage Foundation, said: ‘The government’s living wage must not be confused with the Real Living Wage – which is based on the cost of living – than the legal minimum which is wage floor if you like.

‘So our rates are based on what it costs to live and that is £9 an hour in the UK and £10.55 an hour in London to reflect the higher costs of living there.

‘So that adds up to about £1,500 pounds more needed a year to ensure that families can meet the cost of living compared to today’s increase for a full-time worker.’

Meanwhile, the GMB union expressed outrage at the hike in water bills which also came into force yesterday.

They said: ‘The water bill rise is insulting to customers as billions of litres of water is wasted while fat cat bosses pocket millions.’

Calling for the entire system to be renationalised GMB said: ‘30 years on from the privatisation of water in England, it’s clearly not working.

‘Water bills have increased 40% above inflation since the water industry was privatised by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1989 on the back of a promise for greater investment to improve efficiency.’

Stuart Fegan, GMB National Officer, said: ‘For private water companies to hike up bills again is insulting to customers, and begs the question again whether privatisation has failed.

‘It’s time to take back the tap and bring our water sector back into public hands.’