As of 1 October 2007, the national minimum wage for over 21 year olds will go up 17p, to £5.52 an hour. Working an average of 35 hours a week, this would leave you with £9,063.77 take home pay a year. This 3% rise is less than inflation, meaning the minimum wage change is actually a decrease in real terms.
This should come as no surprise to any following the exploits (and we really mean that word) of the Low Pay Commission, who basically represent bosses’ interests, and wouldn’t give a genuine increase. Public sector workers are also being palmed off with below inflation pay deals.
It is estimated that 70% of the “beneficiaries” of the minimum wage, paid to 1.3 million workers, are women. The effects of poverty pay, particularly for women, can hardly be quantified without an essay: poor housing, long hours, low-quality childcare (or none at all), poor diet (and associated health problems), stress, debt… the list goes on, without even touching on long term issues.
It’s women who bear a disproportionate amount of this burden, so it’s no wonder that every time the Government heralds the minimum wage as a triumph for women workers it somewhat irritates.
But all’s not lost — we can fight for a living minimum wage, as examples like the successful Queen Mary’s University campaign show. Students, trade unionists and workers fought together for a living wage for campus workers, and won. For more information about living wage campaigns, email firstname.lastname@example.org