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08 Dec 2021

Harkin to call on Council to back equal pay for young people

Harkin to call on Council to back equal pay for young people

Cllr Shaun Harkin: "When it comes to standing up for young people it's been 'blah blah blah' from the Executive."

People Before Profit Councillor, Shaun Harkin, will call upon the Council to challenge the Executive in Stormont to ensure young people will not be 'ripped off' on wages.

Cllr Harkin, who represents the Foyleside ward, will table a motion in this month's main meeting of Derry City & Strabane District Council calling upon the minimum wage rate to be equal for all workers – no matter what age they are.

Currently, the minimum wage rates are staggered with various age groups earning separate levels of pay.

Those aged 16 to 18 are entitled to £4.62 an hour, 18 to 20-year-olds get £6.56, those aged 21 and 22 receive £8.36 while workers of the age of 23 and upwards get paid an hourly rate of £8.91.

Cllr Harkin insists that minimum wage parity for all ages must be imposed and will call upon the Council to send a message to Derry's young people that they have their backs in their right for equal pay.

He said: “If we want young people to have hope, to stay here and to thrive here, we need to shake-up the status quo propped up by corporations and the Stormont Executive.

“The political establishment has been quick to falsely demonise young people for spreading the covid virus – and some have tried to use young people as fodder for sectarian violence – but not a finger has been lifted by Executive parties to challenge rip-off wages paid to young people.

“It's unacceptable for 16-18 yr-olds to be paid only £4.62 an hour. Under-20s are paid less £7 an hour. What kind of message does it send to young people that they don't deserve even the basic minimum wage of £8.91?

“The cynical politics of division constantly pursued by both sides of the unionist and nationalist establishment does nothing to help young people.

“When it comes to standing up for young people it's been 'blah blah blah' from the Executive.

“There's been no anti-poverty strategy. Continued failure to properly expand Magee and create the type of infrastructure Derry and the North West needs.

“They've done zero to promote voting rights for 16 and 17-year-olds. Student demands have been ignored. And, egregiously, the Executive has done nothing to challenge rip-off wages paid to young people working in key sectors.

“We believe our Council should promote 'equal pay for equal work' and be advocates for our young people, including education about trade union rights.

"Young workers should receive 'equal pay for equal work' and their contribution throughout the pandemic should be properly acknowledged.”

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