The minimum wage has been cut by between 1% and 2.4%, despite the government claiming that the minimum wage rate increased in October. For workers aged 21 and over, the rate increased from £5.80 to £5.93 an hour – an extra £5.20 a week – but prices are rising at a faster pace. The lowest paid now have less money to spend on basics. According to government statistics, the Consumer Price Index measure of inflation is 3.1%. The Retail Price Index though (which is a more accurate measure of inflation for the low paid) is currently 4.6%. The minimum wage legislation discriminates against young workers (18-21 year olds are entitled to £4.92 an hour and 16 and 17 year olds are entitled to £3.64!) but Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s don’t have lower prices for young people. This cut is hitting the youngest and lowest paid workers in the country. That is why Socialist Youth is campaigning to abolish the youth exemptions and for an immediate increase to £8 minimum wage as a step towards a living minimum wage.
ELECT SOCIALISTS TO FIGHT THE CUTS, NOT MAKE THEM!
All the main parties in the election campaign have dodged, ducked and dived to avoid the biggest issue facing working class people – the cuts. They all support cuts to public services and jobs and the privatisation of services.While lecturing us that there is not enough money to fund services, without a hint of shame the sectarian parties are outbidding each other over how much they want to slash corporation tax on the banks and for big business! They want to cut an additional £300m a year from hospitals and schools to give to big business in the form of a cut in corporation tax.
Sinn Fein have been challenged to publically rule out the introduction of water charges after a senior member of the party called for separate water charges to be brought in after the May’s elections.
In an interview in today’s The Irish News, Paul Butler claimed Sinn Fein needed to start taking “hard decisions rather than populist decisions” in order to find extra funding and added “really the only place the Stormont executive can go is the area of water charging.”
Fight the minister’s attacks on young people
In recent months, there has been much speculation on the coming budget cuts imposed by the winners of the general election and the Northern Ireland Assembly. Cuts are likely to affect most areas of the public sector, costing countless jobs and damaging our public services. One of the areas likely to see major cutbacks is education.