The National Minimum Wage (NMW) rose by all of 12 pence with effect from Tuesday 01 October 2013 for virtually all workers aged 21 and older. The increase of just under 2% brings the figure to £6.31 an hour, which means that the real value of the NMW has fallen yet again, given that even by the Government’s preferred yardstick, the Consumer Price Index, the rate of inflation stood at 2.7%. Compared to 2008, the annualised worth of this bare minimum has plunged by nearly £1,000.
Meanwhile, the gap between NMW and the unofficial London Living Wage (LLW) is now a yawning £2.24 an hour or some 36%. And the sorry reality is that there are dozens of workers on outsourced Camden Council contracts – most cleaners employed by the multinational giant ISS – on the £6.31 an hour NMW. Scores more on outsourced contracts in the social care sector and in catering make less than the LLW despite the Labour council’s highly publicised policy commitment.
There is, however, a positive lesson to be drawn from the recent experiences of low-paid workers working on the NSL contract and outsourced cleaners at University of London colleges like SOAS and Birkbeck: by joining UNISON, organising and fighting back the LLW and other meaningful gains can be won!