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MINIUM WAGE 'COULD BE AS LOW AS£3'

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A minimum wage under the new government could be as low as£3, according to a report on Labour's employment policie...
A minimum wage under the new government could be as low as£3, according to a report on Labour's employment policies by private research company Incomes Data Services.

The news came as local government unions went out to consultation on a deal which would give their members a£4 minimum wage backdated to 1 April this year.

According to the report, there are indications that the government could set a bottom rate for pay based on the minimums decided by the wages councils, which were abolished by the Conservatives in 1993.

Wages councils set minimum rates for a range of low-paying industries such as hotels, catering and retail. If their 1993 rates were uprated in line with inflation they would give a minimum hourly wage of between£3.01 and£3.49.

The minimum wage would apply nationally in the public and private sector to all those in employment over the age of 18, according to IDS. Legislation could be introduced by mid-1998, and implemented soon after if a shadow Low Pay Commission is appointed to do the groundwork in the meantime.

A spokeswoman for the Trades Union Congress said: 'We don't have a bid figure at the moment, we are looking forward to the Low Pay Commission and will obviously be putting a bid to that, based on half male median earnings, which could produce a figure of between£3.50 to£4.20 an hour.'

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