Union warns against freezing minimum wage

08-05-2009

Union warns against freezing minimum wage
The TUC union has warmed against freezing the national minimum wage, claiming it would leave workers struggling to make ends meet.

The warning to the Low Pay Commission (LPC) today comes ahead of the announcement for the national minimum wage from October next week.

The union has called on the LPC to ignore calls from businesses to freeze the minimum wage due to the recession, citing the predicted rise in inflation as proof any freeze would have a real impact on the living standards of low paid workers already struggling.

During previous recessions most people's wages continued to increase, and rises were consistently ahead of inflation, the TUC claims.

The union warns a freeze for the next 12 months would mean low paid workers would fall behind the rest of the working population, as average earnings are expected to rise by 2.7 per cent during the period covered by the next LPC recommendation.

Commenting, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "It is not surprising that business organisations are saying an increase in the minimum wage will threaten jobs and that it should be frozen during the recession.

"The same employer groups warned us ten years ago that introducing the minimum wage would destroy jobs. In fact it has been one of this government's greatest successes, and the minimum wage has improved the living standards of thousands of families across the UK without any adverse side effects.

"A reasonable increase in the minimum wage would have a modest effect on employer pay bills, and companies should find the extra costs easy to absorb."

He added: "The recession was caused by very highly paid people damaging the nation's financial system. It would not be fair to make the low paid suffer a freeze in wages and a lower quality of life while the city bankers still get their bonuses.

"The LPC should reject employer scare-mongering and recommend the highest minimum wage increases that can be sustained."

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