The coalition government’s proposals to introduce regional pay are unfair, unworkable and an unwanted ‘blast from the past’ according to the Labour Party in Cornwall.
Candy Atherton, former MP for Falmouth and Camborne and Chair of the Cornwall Labour Party said: “I am proud to have been a member of the Labour Government that introduced the national minimum wage in 1999. At the time, the Tories said it would cost jobs and the Lib Dems wanted a regional minimum wage. Both were proved wrong then and they are just as wrong today.”
Jude Robinson, Councillor for Camborne North said: “Wages are already too low in Cornwall. Paying teachers and nurses less will not help that – it will only give bad private sector employers an excuse to reduce pay as well. Working people in Cornwall already face a double whammy of high costs and low wages. If low pay was good for the economy, ours would be booming but we are still one of the poorest regions in Europe.”
The introduction of regional pay would mean that workers would be paid different rates for doing the same job in different parts of the country and lead to difficulties of staff recruitment in low wage/high cost areas like Cornwall.
Although private sector rates of pay vary across the UK, minimum wage levels are set nationally. The National Minimum Wage was introduced in 1999 at a rate of £3.60 per hour (£3 for 18 – 21 year olds). At the time, it was estimated that 1.9 million people were paid less than that – in some cases significantly less. In Cornwall, jobs were regularly advertised at £1.50 per hour. The current rate is £6.08 per hour, increasing to £6.19 in October.
The introduction of the NMW was one of Labour’s manifesto pledges before the 1997 General Election. The Coalition Agreement – the deal struck by Tories and Lib Dems to share power – does not include regional pay.Other news from Cornwall Labour