[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 September 2007, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
Crackdown pledge on minimum wage
John Hutton
Mr Hutton said rogue bosses should be "rooted out"
Firms who pay less than the minimum wage face bigger fines as part of a crackdown on "rogue" employers.

Business and Enterprise Secretary John Hutton said he wanted to double the number of inspectors overseeing standards in employment agencies.

He told the TUC conference workers who had been underpaid by unscrupulous bosses would also get "fair arrears".

The Unite union welcomed the crackdown but said more work was needed on equal rights for agency staff and temps.

Mr Hutton told trade unionists the government was committed to improving life in the workplace but he recognised that some workers could still be exploited by unscrupulous firms.

Maximum fines

"We must root out the rogues as we also act to protect jobs and flexibility in our labour market that offers choice to millions of workers," he said.

He said maximum fines were being increased for employers who continued to pay less than the minimum wage and said there would be an unlimited fine for "rogue" employment agencies.

We need rigorous enforcement of existing laws, making examples of the worst employers
Tony Woodley

The government has been under pressure from the unions to sign up to a proposed EU directive which gives new rights to agency workers.

Mr Hutton said there should be a balance between equal treatment, and protecting jobs and giving people the choice agency work offered.

He said he wanted a "fair and lasting solution".

But Tony Woodley, joint leader of Unite, said they were "fine words" but he wanted to see clear commitment and action.

"We need rigorous enforcement of existing laws, making examples of the worst employers who should go out of business or be sent to jail," he said.

"The minister's announcements are welcome but the law also needs to be extended. Crucially, the law should guarantee equal treatment of agency workers and the directly employed."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific