MP Wishes The National Minimum Wage A Happy Tenth Birthday
The National Minimum Wage is ten years old this week.
Since its launch in 1999 it has proved the critics wrong. Despite the dire warnings from business lobby groups that thousands of jobs would be lost, this has not been the case. Up until the recent economic troubles employment had grown by about two million jobs since 1999, says TUC.
Ten years ago, David Cameron felt the introduction of the National Minimum Wage "would send unemployment straight back up". When Cameron campaigned against the National Minimum Wage, wages of as little as £1.20 an hour were common and legal, the equivalent of £1.38 an hour at today's prices. The introduction of the National Minimum Wage has had the greatest positive impact on women workers, workers from ethnic minority backgrounds, those with disabilities, and younger and older workers.
Mary Creagh, MP for Wakefield, said: "The National Minimum Wage has benefited thousands of my constituents and is one of the Labour Government's greatest achievements. I sat on the committee which looked at the law to update the minimum wage and asked the Prime Minster to back tough new penalties for rogue employers who flout the law. I recently backed the "IT'S YOUR CALL" campaign, which aimed to reach people directly to tell them of their right to the minimum wage. It is essential that people know their rights and employers abide by the law. I am pleased that from 6 April 2009, every employer caught underpaying their workers will have to pay a penalty of between £100 and £5,000."
Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, said: "The minimum wage is one of this Government's greatest successes. It is an integral part of building a fairer Britain, and its success has shown that despite scaremongering from business, the economy can easily cope with sensible labour market regulation. Indeed, our current economic woes seem to be caused by too little regulation rather than too much."
Employers are wrong to call for a minimum wage freeze this year. Raising the minimum wage has already helped hundreds of thousands of families without causing significant job losses. The recession was caused by very highly paid people damaging the nation's financial system. It would not be fair to make the low paid suffer a wage freeze while city bankers still get bonuses, and when there is no economic necessity to do so.