Wednesday, 8 October 2008
A living wage - not just a minimum wage
GREEN Party leader and Sussex Euro-MP Caroline Lucas has called for fairer pay for the thousands working in the county’s restaurants and hotels.
She said a loophole in the minimum wage legislation allowed tips to be included in regular pay packets – rather than received as an added ‘extra’, as most restaurant-goers believed.
This loophole means staff in some restaurants were being paid well below the minimum wage – in some cases staff receive as little as £3 an hour.
Dr Lucas, who also hopes to be elected MP for Brighton Pavilion at the next election, said: “As the Unite union has said, the minimum wage laws are failing to protect staff in one of our biggest sectors of the economy from low-pay abuse.
“It’s just not good enough – even the minimum wage, currently £5.72 an hour, is a poverty wage in this city.
“The Government must replace the minimum wage laws with a guaranteed living wage, based on what life’s essentials actually cost working families: in Brighton and Hove it should be raised to about £7 an hour, just as Green Councillors have proposed.
“We are seeing an increase in poverty amongst working families here in Brighton, and it’s no coincidence: fair pay is an issue which affects everyone in this city.”
The picture shows Caroline outside Brighton’s ‘Carluccio’s Restaurant. A BBC investigation earlier this year found Carluccio's paid some waiters £3.75 an hour, which is below the legal minimum: read the BBC report for more...