Young workers exploited by poverty-pay employers

Thousands
of 16 and 17-year-old workers in Britain are being exploited, earning poverty
pay in jobs offering poor training and little prospects, according to trade
union research.

A
survey by retail union Usdaw shows some workers in this age group are earning
just £1.25 per hour.

The
union said it fears this is only the tip of the iceberg, with many more young
workers earning less.

Presently,
only workers aged 18 and above are protected by the National Minimum Wage.
Those aged 16 or 17 are not covered by the legislation. Usdaw said it wants the
protection extended to the younger workers.

The
union’s survey includes more than 100 examples of genuine job offers open only
to 16 or 17-year-old applicants during the last two months. The lowest include:


£1.25 per hour to be a riding school assistant in Liskeard, Cornwall.


£1.50 per hour to be a car valet in Warrington, Cheshire.


£1.62 per hour to be a trainee sheet metal worker in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

Usdaw
general secretary, Sir Bill Connor, said: "The findings of this survey
shames Britain. This is ageism in reverse. It cannot be right that a 16 or 17
year old’s first experience of the world of work is poverty pay, often
accompanied by poor working conditions and non-existent training.

"Our
survey graphically shows that too many employers seize on the absence of legal
protection for young people’s wages and pay them appalling rates. This must be
stopped. The case is unquestionable that we must protect 16 and 17 year olds
with a National Minimum Wage for them."

By Quentin Reade

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