Employment

TUC unveils 'road map' to a £15 minimum wage and high wage economy

The minimum wage can be raised by boosting greater demand across the economy rather than concentrating wealth in the hands of a minority, according to a new report.

The rising cost of living has increased calls to raise the minimum wage. Image: Anthony/Pexels

The Trades Union Congress has unveiled a “road map” plan to a £15 minimum wage in the UK, calling on the next prime minister to deliver a high wage economy as the country faces a deepening cost of living crisis.

With inflation already at 11 per cent and energy bills expected to hit £4,000 a year from January, the TUC is demanding the government find ways to boost the economy, invest in greater rights and skills for workers, and put long-term growth ahead of short-term returns.

“Every worker should be able to afford a decent standard of living,” said Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC. “But millions of low-paid workers live wage packet to wage packet, struggling to get by – and they are now being pushed to the brink by eye-watering bills and soaring prices.”

The solution, according to a report laying out the proposals, is to give businesses incentives for “high wage, high-skilled and secure jobs rather than a reliance on low-paid and insecure work”.

Putting the needs and rights of workers before profits, by strengthening their hand in corporate decision-making, will raise wages and create greater demand across the economy rather than concentrating wealth in the hands of a minority, according to the report.

“Forcing workers to take the hit while the wealthy increase their wealth has led us into crisis after crisis,” write the report’s authors. “We need a new approach that puts workers ahead of wealth and a productive economy ahead of an extractive economy. 

“That means investing in UK workers, in the secure green energy supply we need, and in boosting jobs in the UK – in the public and private sector. Workers deserve better than another decade of pay loss.“

Raising the “bite” point of the minimum wage, from 66 per cent to 75 per cent of average hourly pay, at the same time as supercharging wage growth will mean the £15 target can be reached more quickly.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak repeatedly promised to deliver a “high wage economy” while in power, without detailing plans to do so. Sunak and rival Liz Truss are in line to replace Johnson as prime minister on September 5 but both have refused to be drawn on solutions to the cost of living crisis during the leadership race.

Research published by the TUC and the High Pay Centre this week showed that the salaries of FTSE 100 chief executives had increased by almost 40 per cent in the last year, while many workers fight for pay to keep up with inflation.

Polling has shown overwhelming cross-party support for a £15 minimum wage.

As it stands, the minimum wage for over 23-year-olds is £9.50, getting progressively lower by age. The minimum wage for 16 and 17-year-olds is just £4.81 an hour. The TUC is also calling for this distinction to be removed, with all workers to be eligible for the same minimum wage.

“For too long workers have been told that businesses can’t afford to pay them more. But again and again the evidence has shown that firms are still making profits and increasing jobs – we can afford higher wages,” O’Grady said.

“And higher wages are good for the economy – more money in the pockets of working people means more spend on our high streets. 

“It’s time to put an end to low-pay Britain. Let’s get wages rising in every corner of the country and get on the pathway to a £15 per hour minimum wage.”

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