On Tuesday 1st November 2016, young members from GMB North West & Irish Region met with Holly Lynch MP and Shadow Minister for Labour Jack Dromey MP to tell them how they have been affected by age discrimination in pay.
As the UK celebrates Living Wage Week, GMB has warned young adult workers under the age of 25 are still being told by the Government they are not worth the so-called National Living Wage of £7.20 per hour. Under this policy, young workers under 25 can do the same work as over 25 colleagues and receive between 3% and 23% less pay for it. The National Minimum Wage rates since 1 October 2016 are £6.95 per hour for those aged 21-24 (3 per cent less) and £5.55 per hour for those aged 18-20 (23 per cent less).
After hearing young members’ experiences of being trapped in in-work poverty as a result of being excluded from the National Living Wage, MPs pledged to fight side-by-side with young GMB members in their campaign to force the Government to rethink its policy and implement a real living wage of £10 per hour that workers need to live on. You can help by signing our petition, click here.
Jack Dromey MP, Shadow Minister for Labour said: “It cannot be right for hard working young people to be denied a wage that they can live on. People should get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. The time has come for pay justice for young people.”
Following the meeting, Holly Lynch, Jack Dromey and also GMB MP Jim McMahon raised the examples our young members gave on Thursday 3rd November, in an urgent Parliamentary debate on the living wage. You can watch the videos of their speeches here:
Ross Holden, Chair of GMB North West & Irish Young Members added:
“Our young members did so well to speak about their difficult experiences of having to scrape by on low pay in the fifth richest country in the world and I hope have encouraged more young people to speak out about how unfairly they are being treated by this Government. GMB NW&I Young Members would like to thank our Labour MPs and the GMB Political team for making the voice of our young members and young workers everywhere heard this week and calling on the Government to rethink this outrageous policy.
This Tory Government has never and will never be the party of working people and forcing them admit they are wrong is not easy so please help our campaign by signing the petition to include young workers aged 18-24 in the National Living Wage here.”
You can read our young members’ experiences below:
Rebecca, who is aged 20 and works in retail said: “Because of my age the Government says I can live on £5.55 an hour whilst my colleague earns £7.20 an hour for doing exactly the same job. Rent and living expenses are exactly the same, so why aren’t the wages? Working in retail this unequal pay is common and earning less stops me from getting on in life. I can’t afford to study part time to get a better job, have driving lessons or even think about owning a car. I’m frustrated at the fact I am expected to live on so little, whereas if I was older I would automatically be paid more.”
Thomas, who is also aged 20 and has worked in fast food and retail said: “I recently worked in a fast food sandwich company on a zero-hours contract and was paid the [then] minimum wage for 18-20 year olds at £5.30 an hour. This was whilst my colleagues working beside me in the restaurant were paid far more on £7.20 an hour simply because they were aged over 25. I felt left out and not valued at all by my employer, like I didn’t belong in the workplace.
£5.30 per hour is a wage I simply couldn’t live on, especially on a zero-hours contract with no certainty on how many hours work I could get each week to go towards my rent and the food budget. In the end I had to take up more jobs and borrow money from my family which has now put me into debt, all because my work is apparently worth less than if I was born before 1991. Being given equal pay for equal work as my colleagues would give me some space to plan my future. I’m not asking for much; I’m just asking for fairness.”