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National minimum wage

Monday 30 June 2008 Campaigns Archive

Our Citizen 16 campaign addresses discrimination regarding the national minimum wage (NMW). The NMW currently has three bands based on age; 16-17 (£3.40), 18-21 (£4.60)  and 22+ (£5.52)

This means that a young person can be paid less for doing the same job as someone older.

The national minimum wage is specifically exempted from the recent age discrimination law.

Join the fight to end discrimination

Many trade unions oppose this exemption and want to see it changed. NUS is joining the fight to end discrimination in the national minimum wage. As part of this we're campaigning to:

  • Reduce the voting age to 16
  • End discrimination in the National Minimum Wage
  • The National Minimum Wage applies to all work including apprenticeships and work placements
  • Universal and flexible education entitlement for all

Local action is also a key part of this campaign your students' union may already be working on something to get the public's attention or will already be lobbying your MP/MSP/AM on this issue.

Students from Exter and Plymouth colleges got together on Saturday 31 May to hold a day of action, across their two towns, in support of this campaign. Beth Walker, Vice President (Further Education) helped in Plymouth and the then Women's Officer Kat Stark was in Exeter. Exeter College Students’ Union President Ross Stanley explains how the day came to be.

Our idea was formed, as all good ideas are, on the eight hour coach journey back from NUS Annual Conference (at the beginning of April). Like so many delegates we were fired up and looking for a way to take on the world. Students’ unions talk a lot about working together so we decided at the outset that we wouldn’t even entertain the idea of a joint rally unless we promised ourselves to be true to our word and organise the event.

We decided that the main goal of a rally is to generate publicity and we could get more of this by rallying in both of the two main cities and by pulling in all the local colleges and universities. We did this under the banner of the ‘Citizen 16 South West Day of Action’. We also decided that we would focus the day on the equal minimum wage thread of the campaign.

Our first job after deciding to organise the event was to formalise the legal side. We each contacted our local councils and police departments; we were informed that as long as we didn’t put up a stall we didn’t need a risk assessment, which saved us a lot of paperwork. We also had to contact the city centre manager and inform them of the proceedings. Through various emails we managed to tie down the dates and timing of the event so that we could coordinate our marches.

We now had to publicise the event. Exeter College Students’ Union designed posters and City College Plymouth set up a facebook group. We each invited our local colleges and universities via email as well as inviting Beth Walker and Kat Stark as representatives from NUS’ NEC and organisers of the national campaign. Our key strength throughout this period was communication; any emails sent were also sent to the other college so we were always aware of what the others were doing.

It was suggested that we got together and had a day of designing placards, flyers and the petition as a group. Meaning we would have uniform resources and could work together on the design. We organised this for the Thursday before the rally and met at Plymouth College of Art and Design because of their specifically designed facilities and expertise in printing and design work. It was a busy, stressful but productive day that saw everyone getting involved to work towards a common goal.

Exeter was blessed with sunshine on the day. Unfortunately, for Plymouth, they were not and had to buy emergency umbrellas but, weather notwithstanding, it was a great day. Ross Stanley was interviewed by the local press and the march was photographed and appeared in the paper the following Monday. We also got an incredible amount of signatures from both cities. We hope to continue to build on the strength of the campaign next year and continue to spread the message.

See the full gallery of images from the day.