Lower minimum wage for trainees

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The Independent Online
Unions and employers were in general agreement that trainees should receive a lower minimum wage than others, Professor George Bain, chairman of the Low Pay Commission, said yesterday.

He also confirmed the line put out by Peter Mandelson during the Labour Party conference, that under-25s could be exempted from minimum wage protection, but he said there was no question of the commission considering regional differentials in the rate of minimum wage.

"That is ruled out," he told BBC television's Breakfast with Frost.

"We have to have a national rate, and, as one goes around the country, there's actually quite a lot of agreement on this."

John Monks, the TUC general secretary, told Sunday with Adam Boulton on Sky News: "I think the only serious runner as an exemption is the under- 25s."

He believed there was no question of ministers accepting a regional differential, or different rates for different industries.

"I think we've won the argument not to have sectoral or regional exclusions," Mr Monks said. "On the under-25s, I think there's still a long way to go."

After Tony Blair had again urged the voters to "keep faith" with his government, ministers yesterday rallied to drive home the message that the Government would stick to its pledges.

The Prime Minister said in an interview with the Observer: "It is cynical rubbish to suggest that we are going back on our promises.

"We are not going back on a single promise, not a single promise."