Labour conference to debate £15 minimum wage in wake of shadow cabinet row
Labour’s conference will debate a motion on raising the minimum wage to £15 this afternoon, just hours after the shadow secretary of state for employment rights resigned after claiming he was ordered to argue against the proposal.
The Unite union will hold a vote on a motion calling for a £15 minimum wage and a ban on zero-hour contracts.
Current Labour policy commits to a minimum wage of “at least” £10 per hour.
The Labour leadership has said it will not encourage members to vote for or against the motion.
The UK’s existing minimum wages are £8.91 for those 23 and over, £8.36 for those aged 21 to 22 and £6.56 for 18 to 20-year olds.
While Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has never explicitly pledged to create a £15 minimum wage, during a 2019 campaign to improve conditions for employees at fast-food chain Mcdonald’s, he said: “They’re not asking for the Earth. They’re asking for the basics – £15 an hour, the right to know their hours in advance and to have trade union recognition. That ought to be the norm in 21st Century Britain.”
Last week the then-shadow secretary of state for employment rights Andy McDonald launched a green paper on workers’ rights with shadow secretary of state for the future of work and Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner. The paper included proposals for a £10 minimum wage. A shadow cabinet source told The Guardian: “If we are to take his argument at face value, it appears he’s resigned on the basis of a policy he agreed and announced at the weekend.”
McDonald, who was an employment lawyer before entering the House of Commons, told a fringe event at the conference yesterday, that “They got us through this pandemic, and all they can give us is £10 an hour. It is just not good enough”.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 Today programme, the former shadow home secretary Dianne Abbot said, “There is no point clapping low paid NHS or social care workers. You can’t live on claps. A lot of constituency delegates support £15 an hour, it is the very least”
Continuing she said, “I think Keir Starmer needs to be listening to his own party and his grassroots members more”.
Zarah Sultana MP said via Twitter that it was “disgraceful” that McDonald was “forced to resign” and that “Labour should proudly champion a £15 minimum wage & liveable sick pay — central demands of key workers.”
McDonald, one of the few remaining members of Corbyn’s frontbench team who continued under Starmer, was reportedly one of the only shadow cabinet members to oppose the leader’s rule change proposals in last week’s meeting.