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26 July 2007 Edition

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McLaughlin vows to fight minimum wage cuts

Sinn Féin Economic spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) has pledged that the party will fight any attempts by the British government to lower the minimum wage in the North. This follows reports that new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is considering regionalising the minimum wage, which is currently set at £5.35. Under the plan, the minimum wage in the Six Counties could fall to as low as £4.80 an hour. The rate would also be cut in Scotland, Wales and the North of England, while it might actually rise to around £7 an hour in London.
“Any such action would impose an intolerable financial burden on the most vulnerable in our society,” said Mitchel McLaughlin.
“People in the north of Ireland are already among the lowest paid workers in these islands as a result of successive administrations marketing it as a low-wage economy. Statistics also show that we pay more for housing, food, fuel and energy, leaving us with less disposable income.
“Rather than reduce the minimum wage, Gordon Brown should be focusing his energies on ways to grow the economy here by supporting policies designed to attract jobs at the higher end of the wage spectrum.
“This approach highlights the irony that Gordon Brown sees no barrier to having variable rates of pay while at the same time insisting that there can’t be variable tax rates. It also demonstrates the negative impact of being tied to Whitehall fiscal policy and supports Sinn Féin’s call for the Assembly to have tax varying powers.”
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