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MINIMUM WAGE SET TO PASS pounds 5.

Byline: NIGEL NELSON

THE minimum wage will rise to pounds 5.20 an hour if Labour win the next General Election.

Premier Tony Blair wants the pledge included in the party's manifesto because he is convinced it is a vote- winner. Youngsters under 18 will also get the protection of their own minimum wage - probably around pounds 4 an hour.

The minimum wage for people over 22 now stands at pounds 4.50, but is set to increase to pounds 4.85 next October. Those aged between 18 and 21 currently get a minimum of pounds 3.80, which is going up to pounds 4.10. One minister said yesterday: "If we can increase the minimum wage by 35p next year then there is no reason why we cannot do it the year after as well.

"You will then see it pass the pounds 5 barrier, which is what we intended."

The minimum wage was introduced in April 1999 amid gloomy predictions it would lead to job losses and inflation. But inflation remains low and 1.1 million jobs have been created.
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Dec 14, 2003
Words:182
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