Britain lifts minimum pay for over 1mn
The British government announced on Friday that it had raised the minimum wage for more than a million people.
The government said the minimum gross salary for all British workers aged over 25 has been accordingly increased by 7.5 percent to £7.20 ($10.36, 9.10 euros) an hour as of April 1.
This is expected to affect between 1.3 million and 1.8 million people but is still far outstripped by inflation in the country.
The pay rise, first announced by Prime Minister David Cameron’s government last July, represents a complete about-turn for the Conservative party, which opposed the introduction of the minimum wage in 1999 when then prime minister Tony Blair’s Labour was in power, AFP reported.
“The National Living Wage will play a central role in moving Britain to a higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare economy,” British finance minister George Osborne said as the pay boost came into effect.
“It will also mark the end of the gender pay gap for some of our lowest paid and hardest working people.”
The opposition Labour party criticised the policy as a “cruel sleight of hand”, however, pointing to the government’s enactment of sharp cutbacks in welfare spending.
Other nations, too, have raised minimum wages in recent years to address stagnant wage growth and inequality between rich and poor.
France lifted the minimum wage at the start of this year to almost 9.70 euros an hour.
Germany launched a minimum wage one year earlier at 8.50 euros, where it remains.
And in the United States, California plans to raise the pre-tax minimum wage to $15 per hour (13.28 euros) in a move which might be followed by other US states.
In Britain, where unemployment is relatively low at around 5.0 percent, large wage inequalities persist and London School of Economics professor Alan Manning described the new living wage as “more symbolic” than anything else, AFP added.