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Unions start fight to raise minimum wage

01 December 2004
Unions start fight to raise minimum wage

Trade unions have been lobbying the Low Pay Commission (LPC) for further increases to the national minimum wage. Both the TUC and the GMB union want the minimum wage to increase, but to differing levels.

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Curran: "The GMB wants the minimum wage to become a living wage"

The TUC told the LPC that the rate should rise from £4.85 per hour to at least £5.35 next year and to £6 in 2006. But this rate of increase was not fast enough for the GMB, which wants the basic hourly rate to rise to £6 next year.

"The GMB wants to see the minimum wage become a living wage, pay that provides enough to live on," said general secretary Kevin Curran.

An NOP survey of 996 adults, commissioned by the GMB, found that 42% supported a rise to £6 an hour or more, while 63% felt that £7 was the least they could live on.

Another 63% believed under-22-year-olds should not be paid less, and 60% thought it unacceptable that 30% of people on low wages relied on state assistance to survive.

The TUC claimed that the bid by bosses to cap next year's rise below £5 would represent an effective pay cut for millions of low-paid staff, as average wages are forecast to rise by 9% in the next two years, and prices by 6%.

It also wants to lower the age at which the adult minimum rate is paid, from 22 to 18, and has called for the £3 rate currently paid to under-17s to be reviewed in 2006.

The British Hospitality Association told the LPC that the 15% rise in the rate over the past two years was beginning to bite and that next year's increase "will need to be very modest".

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