Retreat on minimum wage plan

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Indy Politics
LABOUR HAS so far failed to convince the electorate of the case for a statutory minimum wage, John Smith, the party leader, conceded yesterday at a meeting of the national executive committee, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.

The committee also shied further away from backing a maximum 35-hour working week, with some union section members opposing it.

As the committee approved the European elections manifesto, to be launched in mid- May, Mr Smith and John Prescott, the employment spokesman, emphasised that the argument for the principle of a minimum wage had not yet been won. It was 'counter- productive' to talk about the pounds 4.05-an-hour figure demanded by some unions, Mr Prescott said.

The European manifesto will seek to limit the political fall-out from the Party of European Socialists 'jobs' manifesto signed by Mr Smith and ruthlessly exploited by the Tories. A party aide said the manifesto would correct 'misrepresentations'.

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