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Union warns Government’s so-called National Living Wage fails to reach the whole nation and all workers need a wage they can live on whatever their age.

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As the UK celebrates Living Wage Week, GMB has warned young adult workers under the age of 25 are still being told by the Government they are not worth the so-called National Living Wage of £7.20 per hour.

The National Minimum Wage rates since 1 October 2016 are £6.95 per hour for those aged 21-24 (3 per cent less) and £5.55 per hour for those aged 18-20 (23 per cent less).

GMB young members will be visiting Parliament today to meet Shadow Minister for Labour Jack Dromey MP, who has put his weight behind the ‘Wages Not Based on Ages’ campaign, and Holly Lynch MP, a long-time supporter of the campaign.[1]

The discrepancy in the application of the National Minimum Wage means that young workers who do the same work can be paid up to 23% less, a massive disparity in pay that flies in the face of the right to equal pay for equal work.

Former Skills Minister Nick Boles earlier this year admitted that the Government had no proof under-25s were too unproductive to warrant the National Living Wage – “While labour productivity statistics are estimated by sector, there are no official statistics estimating the productivity of workers by their age.” [2]

GMB believes there is no excuse to deny workers equal pay for equal work. The union is calling for the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark MP, to take urgent action and include young workers aged 18-24 in the National Living Wage. GMB Young Members have also launched a parliamentary petition which can be signed here. [3]

Jack Dromey MP, Shadow Minister for Labour said: “It cannot be right for hard working young people to be denied a wage that they can live on. People should get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. The time has come for pay justice for young people.”

Ross Holden, GMB Young Members Network said: “The so-called National Living Wage not only pays far less than the real living wage of £10 per hour workers need, it is also only paid to workers once they are 25 years old. This means that younger workers who do the same work can be paid up to 23% less for it – a massive disparity in pay that flies in the face of the right to equal pay for equal work. 

“Nearly 3.5 million young people could be affected by these lower wage rates whilst many of them struggle with the same living costs as older colleagues. Low pay and low guaranteed hours work are combining to trap young people to in-work poverty from the very beginning of their working lives. Struggling to afford living in a home of your own, looking after your kids or even socialising with friends is becoming a daily reality for more and more young workers in Twenty first Century Britain.”

Rebecca Pitchford, aged 20, said: “Because of my age the Government says I can live on £5.55 an hour whilst my colleague earns £7.20 an hour for doing exactly the same job. Rent and living expenses are exactly the same, so why aren’t the wages? Working in retail this unequal pay is common and earning less stops me from getting on in life. I can’t afford to study part time to get a better job, have driving lessons or even think about owning a car. I’m frustrated at the fact I am expected to live on so little, whereas if I was older I would automatically be paid more.”

“Senior Government Ministers have outrageously justified excluding workers under 25 from the National Living Wage on the belief that they are less productive at work than their over 25 colleagues, but the Government has now admitted in Parliament that there is no evidence to back this up.”

Notes:

[1] Holly Lynch MP, ‘We Need Fair Wages for Under 25s – Young People Are Being Told They Aren’t Worth £7.20 an Hour’, Huffington Post, (7 June 2016) http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/holly-lynch/young-people-living-wage_b_10336746.html [accessed 26 October 2016]

[2]‘Government Admits It Has No Proof Under 25s Are Too Unproductive to Warrant the National Living Wage’, Huffington Post, (9 June 2016) http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/national-living-wage-under-25s_uk_575990d0e4b0415143696c7f [accessed 26 October 2016]

[3] ‘Include young workers aged 18-24 in the Government’s National Living Wage’
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/131920

Source: http://www.gmb.org.uk/Newsroom/Young-Workers-Age-Discrimination-GMB

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