Fears for shop staff as pay councils die

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The Independent Online
THE PAY safety net goes out from under hairdressers, shop and catering staff and workers in such obscure trades as coffin furnishing tomorrow with the abolition of Wages Councils, writes Andrew Bibby.

The councils have fixed minimum wages in traditional low-pay industries for most of this century, though their power to regulate wages for those under 21 was removed in 1986. Abolition of the councils is one of a number of measures in last year's Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act.

The Low Pay Unit, which fought unsuccessfully to save Wages Councils, claims that wages are already under threat in the industries affected.

The Trades Union Congress launched a rearguard action last week, contending in its complaint to the European Commission that the abolition of the councils is a breach of existing equal pay legislation, because about 80 per cent of the 2.5 million workers covered are women.