Public services union, UNISON, has welcomed the new minimum wage of £7.20, whilst warning the UK Conservatives could undermine the positive work of the Welsh Government in this area. The trade union has also criticised chancellor George Osborne for not ensuring young workers benefit from the new uplift in earnings.
The UK Chancellor has rebranded the national minimum wage a ‘national living wage’ and rates improve from £6.70 per hour to £7.20 per hour from today (1 April 2016). The rate will only apply to those over aged 25 and above and crucially, it is not based on living costs but a percentage of average earnings.
By contrast, UNISON has managed to negotiate with Welsh Government and Welsh Further Education employers a minimum payment of £8.25 per hour for anyone over 18 years old and UNISON is working with the Welsh Government to examine how quickly a similar rate can be implemented in Welsh Local Government. £8.25 has been identified by the independent Living Wage Foundation, according to the cost of living and based upon a basket of household goods and services.
Dominic MacAskill of UNISON Cymru Wales, said,
“We want to reduce poverty and inequality, so an increase in minimum wages is good news. Working with UNISON, the Labour Welsh Government and Further Education employers have taken much more positive action than the Tory Chancellor and ensured Welsh hospitals and colleges don’t pay less than £8.25 per hour, with council employees hopefully to follow as soon as possible.
“George Osborne has deliberately muddied what is a living wage in the hope people don’t notice and his new rate of £7.20 is not based upon an independent analysis of living costs. £8.25 per hour is the agreed minimum income needed to survive. The Chancellor is discriminating against young workers given his rate won’t apply to anyone under 25. Let’s have one decent minimum wage for all workers.”