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 You are in: Special Report: 1999: 04/99: Minimum wage  
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EDITIONS
Minimum wage Tuesday, 30 March, 1999, 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK
Challenge for the future
John Monks, General Secretary of the TUC, the federation of Britain's trade unions, says its members can be proud that their campaigning for a minimum wage has paid off but there is no time for resting on their laurels.

From 1 April the UK will have a genuinely national minimum wage. Nearly 2m - one in 11 people at work will be better off as a result.

That the UK is to have a minimum wage at all is a tribute to the persistence and dedication of those who have campaigned over the last 30 years for basic minimum standards for the low-paid.

Minimum wage
It is an achievement of which the trade union movement can and should be proud. The government has made clear that it is determined to end poverty pay in Britain - an objective to which the TUC gives unqualified support.

The minimum wage will bring an immediate benefit to some of the poorest working families in the UK - with average pay increases in the region of 30%.

In particular it will improve the earnings of:

  • One in three homeworkers;
  • One in five part-time workers;
  • More than one in ten women;
  • More than one in ten black workers;
  • Nearly one in five lone parents.

    Social partnership

    The introduction of the minimum wage presents trade unions with a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to ensure that those workers most vulnerable to exploitation get their entitlements under the law.

    The opportunity is to recruit the lowest paid workers and negotiate improvements in their pay. The TUC is committed to the principle of social partnership - the conviction that major national policies are best implemented with the agreement of government, employers and unions.

    The Low Pay Commission has proved that this approach works and that people representing very different interests can co-operate and reach a consensus.

    The task is to make the minimum wage "part of the furniture" in the UK. The Low Pay Commission should consider when it would be right to recommend an uprating in the minimum wage to ensure that it retains its value.

    Poverty pay has no place in a dynamic and competitive economy. Britain's low pay capital is Cornwall where one in four employees are paid less than 3.60 per hour.

    The TUC is advising these workers of their rights through a special advice phone line which runs this week only on: 01872 270 288.


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