Quarter of workers on poverty pay

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One in four workers is on a poverty pay level of less than pounds 4 an hour, according to a report published by the TUC yesterday to highlight wage "exploitation". More than 5 million people are on less than pounds 4 while more than 1 million earn less than pounds 2.50 an hour, according to the report, aimed at making low pay an election issue.

Low-paid workers were urged to question their local parliamentary candidates on whether they backed a national minimum wage, which Labour is planning to introduce if it wins the election. The party will set up a low pay commission made up of employers and unions to fix a statutory minimum rate.

The TUC said some of the lowest paid workers also had the worst employment conditions with no extra money for additional skills or taking on more responsibility. The TUC report said 20 per cent of full-time workers in Britain earned less than two-thirds of median wages, compared with 13 per cent in Germany, France and Italy and 5 per cent in Sweden.