5 April 2001 Edition

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Assembly backs minimum wage

Sinn Féin Assembly Economy spokesperson Dara O'Hagan has welcomed the Assembly backing of a minimum wage of at least £5 per hour.

``The current level of the minimum wage is a disgrace and it is time that society as a whole, as well as political leaders supported the call for the minimum wage to be set at £5,'' the Upper Bann representative said. ``The minimum wage exemption for young people also needs to be abolished so that the £5 per hour minimum wage applies to all.

``I also welcome the fact that the Assembly Commission has now backed the Sinn Féin proposal that no one employed by the Assembly Commission should be paid less than £5 per hour. This is important progress in protecting the low paid and attempting to improve the situation for the working poor.

``What we now need to see is the principle of the £5 minimum wage for everybody accepted by the Executive departments and agencies. This would be political leadership - if all department and agency employees were paid the £5 per hour minimum wage.

``Nearly 4,500 people employed by the Executive departments are currently paid below the £5 per hour minimum wage and almost 50% of those by the Department of Social Development. It is now a question of ministers responding to the lead of the Assembly Commission and setting the example that anything less than £5 per hour is unacceptable.''

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