Labour heads for clash over pay: Union leaders want party to fix pledged national minimum wage at pounds 4.05 an hour
While 'modernisers' on the National Executive Committee will resist moves to attach any figure, Labour yesterday defended the principle, saying it remained a policy goal and denying it was beyond the country's ability to pay.
John Prescott, the party's employment spokesman, highlighted the large sums being paid out in family credit to low-paid workers. Taxpayers were paying to make up for poverty pay levels, he said.
A statutory hourly minimum of pounds 4.05 - half the current rate of male average earnings - would produce a 40- hour week wage of pounds 162 and take more than 300,000 families off means-tested benefits.
Labour's commitment to some form of minimum wage protection is expected to survive an NEC meeting later this month to become a key plank of the party's local, European and by-election campaigning over job-related issues.
But the naming of a sum, or a pledge to pay half male average earnings which could rise in line with wage inflation, is anathema to the modernisers following Labour's hammering over the issue during the 1992 election campaign. Amid reminders of the support for John Smith, the Labour leader, during last year's 'one member, one vote' crisis, some union leaders have mooted the pounds 4.05 figure as an appropriate quid pro quo. Pressure to adopt it would spark a row.
The party was forced to water down the commitment during the election propaganda war over the effect on jobs. The new legislation would stick to a figure of pounds 3.40 rather than provide for increases in line with earnings as originally intended, it was finally decided.
Mr Prescott said yesterday that a national minimum could not possibly cost the pounds 50bn a year that had been claimed by the Confederation of British Industry to bring an estimated 4 million people up to a minimum level.
He added: 'The Government said it would cost 2 million jobs. I see the CBI can't bring themselves to endorse that. They suggest 100,000. I'd like to see the evidence that it would cost jobs.'
In the past he has accepted that the minimum wage would cause some shake-out of jobs, but yesterday he said on the Walden programme on ITV that he believed some employers would opt for a small increase in prices rather than put people out of work.
New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday
Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy
New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain
- 1 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 2 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 3 Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson criticised for beer tweet
- 4 Woman blinded as a child can see again after hitting her head on a coffee table
- 5 The bubble bursts for Sodastream
'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
Woman blinded as a child can see again after hitting her head on a coffee table
Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson criticised for beer tweet
The bubble bursts for Sodastream
Russian politician says Apple CEO Tim Cook should be 'banned' from country after coming out as gay
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...
£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...