Unite, Britain's biggest union, warned the government today (2 April) to step back from its efforts to freeze or cut the national minimum wage.
The union reacted furiously to reports that the government is attempting to influence the Low Pay Commission which sets the minimum wage, with a view to cutting or freezing the hourly wage.
The national minimum wage is currently at £6.19 per hour for those aged over 21 and £4.98 for those aged between 18 and 20.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said:
"The Tories are hell-bent on kicking the weakest when they're already down. Cutting or freezing the minimum wage would make the struggling economy worse and create even more hardship for the lowest paid workers in Britain.
"This government knows no boundaries when it comes to spreading poverty. It has forced through measures that will see some 11.5 million families hurt by welfare changes, while lavishing £100,000 tax giveaways to million pound earners. Now the government is seeking to hammer away at the last protection millions of people in low waged work have, the national minimum wage.
"The argument that the minimum wage harms the economy is utterly spurious. Not a single job was lost with the creation of the national minimum wage, and indeed millions of people found they were able to work. There is only one direction for the minimum wage and that is up. Increasing the minimum wage by £1 would put an extra £25 a week into people's pockets. The extra money would boost spending on our high streets to help the real economy.
"The Low Pay Commission must resist this bullying every step of the way - its job is to defend the interests of the low waged, not support a government in its vicious attack on living standards.
"In the week where tens of thousands have challenged the work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith to swap his £153,000 salary for the £53 week benefit level, here is another reminder that incomes for the poor are never too low as far as this government is concerned."
Contact: Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.