Thursday, 16 June 2011

Conservative MP attempts to undermine minimum wage with Private Members' Bill

The Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) has warned that a Conservative MP's Private Members' Bill is a thinly disguised attempt to undermine the minimum wage. The Employment Opportunities Bill, which is being sponsored by Christopher Chope MP, is due to have its second reading tomorrow, Friday 17th June. 

The bill will allow employees "the right" to opt out of the minimum wage. George Guy, Acting General Secretary of UCATT, said: "This bill is a covert attack by the Conservatives on the minimum wage. Their aim is to create a race to the bottom, where workers opt out of the minimum wage in a desperate attempt to undercut each other to secure work. This highlights the true nature of the Conservatives, soft on the bankers but tough on the workers."

The bill's preamble describes it as introducing "more freedom, flexibility and opportunity for those seeking employment in the public and private sectors". Under its proposals the request to be paid below the minimum wage is made by the employee but both the employee and the employer sign the agreement. There is nothing in the bill which prevents employers indicating at interview that an applicant could be successful if they agreed to work for less than the minimum wage.

Mr Guy, added: "Christopher Chope suggests that his proposals will create, freedom, flexibility and opportunity for job seekers. He has all the sincerity of Uriah Heep. His bill, if it ever became law, would create misery for thousands of low paid workers, who would be forced to work for poverty wages."

The bill will be the first to be debated tomorrow in the House of Commons with proceedings commencing at 9.30am. There will be live coverage on the BBC's Democracy Live website.