Fight for a living wage for all
Today, any worker aged under 18 can be paid as little as £4.35 an hour. This is almost half the minimum rate for workers aged 25 and over, at £8.21. Why are there special rules for young workers? The government has long justified their policy by warning that unemployment among youth will increase if bosses are forced to pay them equally. In reality, this is a form of age discrimination in the benefit of big business, leaving younger workers thousands of pounds worse-off every year than their co-workers, even for the exact same work. In any bar or restaurant, an experienced worker could be paid less than an older worker who has never pulled a pint. Yet, when younger workers leave their shift with lighter pockets than others, their wages must cover the same rent, food costs, and overall cost of living.
We demand an immediate end to workplace discrimination based on age. A £10 minimum wage – with no exemptions – backed by Jeremy Corbyn, Unite the Union and others would see 16 and 17-year-old full-time workers on the current minimum £2,500 better off annually. A £10 minimum wage would boost the income of 75% of hospitality workers and 66% of retail workers.
A higher minimum wage will always be opposed by bosses, claiming they cannot afford it and threatening to lay off workers or increase prices. But their real interest lies in keeping their profits. Large businesses which refuse to implement an equal living wage should be brought into public ownership to preserve jobs. Small businesses which can demonstrate they genuinely can’t afford to pay a living wage should be given support through taxation of the super-rich. More than enough wealth is hoarded in our society to provide a decent living standard for all.
by Naoise Brownlee