Union calls for minimum wage for young workers

The
Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers is calling for a legally-binding
minimum wage for 16 and 17-year-olds and the introduction of the full national
minimum wage for 18-year-olds, accusing the Government of ignoring the
interests of vulnerable young workers.

USDAW
general secretary Bill Connor said workers under the age of 18 remain “totally
unprotected” by a “gaping hole in employment law” and could legally be paid 50
pence an hour.

 “The Government has consistently argued that
to apply a flat-rate national minimum wage to all employees, regardless of age,
would jeopardise the prospects of youngsters. What puerile nonsense.”

USDAW
maintains that the introduction of a legally-binding national minimum wage
would enhance the chances of continuing employment for 16 and 17-year-olds,
arguing that, currently, unscrupulous bosses are encouraged to sack youngsters
when they reach 18 and come under minimum wage legislation.

The
union believes the same argument applies to workers aged 18 to 21 who from 21
October receive only 85 per cent of the adult minimum wage.

 “Apart from being totally arbitrary and
taking no account of the individuals contribution or loyalty to a business, the
differential rate actively encourages unscrupulous employers to sack people on
reaching the age of 22  and take on
younger, cheaper replacements,” Conner said.

By
Lisa Bratby

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