LONDON (Reuters) - A future Labour government would more than double the minimum wage in Britain for workers under the age of 18 to 10 pounds an hour, its leader said on Saturday, stepping up his campaign over the cost of living.
Jeremy Corbyn told a party gathering that employers should not be allowed to exploit younger workers and vowed to bring the salaries of those under 18 in line with the broader workforce.
Former Labour leader Tony Blair introduced a minimum wage in Britain in 1999. Overseen by an independent body, it has steadily increased and now stands at 8.21 pounds for workers over 25, while those under 18 are entitled to 4.35 pounds.
Labour has vowed to increase the overall minimum wage to 10 pounds an hour, and to include younger workers.
“It’s time to end this discrimination. Young people’s work should be properly valued, not exploited by employers to cut their wage bill. If they’re doing the job, pay them the wage - the real living wage,” he said.
With British politics in deadlock over Brexit, company bosses are increasingly examining the policies of Labour to see how they would be affected by a change of government.
Labour, which under socialist leader Corbyn has shifted from a centrist pro-business platform to a more interventionist left-wing pitch, vowed last year that large companies would be forced to transfer as much as 10 percent of their shares to workers, to help more people share economic prosperity.
It has also announced plans to nationalize key industries such as water, energy and rail, and to give workers seats on boards.
Labour said on Saturday it would give support to small and medium sized businesses to help them fund the wage increase, by making savings on the benefits that are paid to people already in work.
Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said the proposals could deter companies from hiring younger workers.
Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Alexandra Hudson