Plans to ramp up fines to £20,000 on rogue bosses, who fail to pay the national minimum wage, will do little to help those trapped on poverty pay, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Wednesday 15 January).
Unite said that the proposals by business secretary Vince Cable to quadruple the fines on employers to £20,000 would make little difference and left exploited workers valued less than the penalty for touts selling dodgy football shirts.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “The problem of low pay is hitting millions of working people struggling to make ends meet.
“However, raising the maximum fine to £20,000 is simply not enough of a deterrent for employers who are making big profits by exploiting workers.
“Enforcement of the national minimum wage is a shambles and average fines are a disgrace. This needs to be addressed and an active policy of ‘naming and shaming’ bad bosses should be introduced, so their local communities know the hard, ugly truth.
“This con trick needs to be exposed - the fine is fixed at 50 per cent of the unpaid wages - it is not a fixed £20,000.
“Further, the £20,000 per employee proposal is only for each employee underpaid by £20,000 - to put it in perspective you will have had to be unpaid (no wages) and working 40 hours a week for over 18 months for this to kick in.
“It’s a joke, leaving workers valued less than a counterfeit football shirt and insulting to hardworking people struggling to get by.
“We also have a situation where HMRC, which is meant to enforce the national minimum wage, has suffered ongoing cuts under the coalition leaving it unable to tackle the billions in tax avoidance, let alone non-payment of the minimum wage.”
Unite has repeatedly called for the national minimum wage, currently £6.31 an hour for adults, to be increased by £1.50 an hour, so that purchasing power is put into the pockets of the UK’s low paid.
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.