World Economy

Labour Party Pledges Rise in Minimum Wage

Labour Party Pledges Rise in Minimum Wage Labour Party Pledges Rise in Minimum Wage

Ed Miliband, the leader of the UK’s Labour Party, pledged to increase the minimum wage to 8 pounds ($13) an hour by 2020 if he wins power in next year’s general election.

Miliband’s proposal, made at the start of his party’s annual conference in Manchester, northwest England, has similarities to his vow last year to make energy companies freeze their bills: both involve money going to voters from businesses, rather than from the government, Bloomberg reported.

With Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives proposing that the wage, which will rise to 6.50 pounds an hour on Oct. 1, should hit 7 pounds an hour next year, the role of the independent Low Pay Commission, which is supposed to advise on its level, is increasingly in doubt. Labour said in a statement that the body would be asked to determine the profile of increases so as to hit the 2020 target.

“I think the Low Pay Commission has an important role, but we can’t carry on as we are as a country,” said Miliband. “We’ve got one in five of the men and women who go out to work in this country, they do some of the most important jobs, they clean this building, they act as security guards, they do incredibly important jobs and they are some of the lowest-paid people in this country. And we are determined to change it.”

Business groups treated the proposal with caution, urging Labour to let the Low Pay Commission set the rate instead.

“The minimum wage is set at the highest rate it can be without putting job creation at risk at the moment,” said Katja Hall, deputy director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, in a statement. “Raising wages in this way would put serious strain on businesses, particularly hard-pressed smaller firms with tight margins, which would end up employing fewer people.”