30 September 2010

See update 8 October 2010 at the bottom of the post

The mandatory national minimum wage for workers aged 21 and over goes up to £5.93 an hour from tomorrow.

There are lower rates for younger workers and for young apprentices.

There are two progressive changes: the qualifying age for the adult wage is reduced to 21 and young apprentices qualify for a minimum wage for the first time.

The adult minimum wage is the equivalent of a fulltime annual income of just over £11 560.

This is a vast advance on the position of low paid workers before the wage was introduced in 1999 by Labour. See this post for some details of its history and the Conservative, Libdem, and Labour parties’ attitudes towards it.

In Cornwall many low-paid workers and their families benefit every day from Labour’s wage. I think it is too low but nevertheless it is a shining jewel in Labour’s crown. The party here should cry it up.

Details of the 2010/11 minimum wage rates are here. The minimum wage is enforced by HM Revenue and Customs and from the beginning of next year the names of companies wrongly failing to pay the minimum wage will be published by the government.

I suggested in this post that we should try now to move councils and institutions and companies voluntarily to adopt the higher living wage, the pro-Cornish wage. I hope that Cornwall Labour party will push hard and ceaselessly for this, starting with the unitary council and the university. I hope Mebyon Kernow and the Libdems will too. Let’s see.

UPDATE 8 October 2010

An October 2010 opinion poll by YouGov shows inter alia that 48 percent think the current minimum wage of £5.93 an hour is too low and 41 percent think it is about right. 45 percent think that the full minimum wage should apply at age eighteen.