The TUC has urged the government to “stand firm” against employer whingeing on proposed increases to the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
It said the UK economy could well afford next year’s proposed 30p increase in the NMW – from £5.05 to £5.35.
Having announced the increase – that will also see the rate for 18-21 year olds rise by 20p to from £4.25 to £4.45 in October 2006 – the Low Pay Commission is currently assessing the impact that the new proposed rates could have on the performance of the economy.
In its submission to the review, the TUC urges the commission to beware of protestations coming from high street retailers that the minimum wage is rising too quickly.
The TUC submission says there is no economic case for not going ahead with the proposed increases, with economic growth continuing and inflation still low.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Millions of low-paid workers are reliant on the minimum wage rising realistically every year. If employer lobbyists get their way and the minimum wage increases at a slower rate or is frozen, it is these people and their families who will suffer.
“Before the minimum wage was introduced, employers warned of dire consequences, none of which has happened. Now the Low Pay Commission must stand firm against the next round of employer whingeing.”
The TUC believes economy is strong enough to allow the NMW to rise to £6 an hour without any negative impact.