Jeremy Corbyn has pledged a £10 an hour minimum wage for all workers over 16 if the Labour party is elected to government.
In a speech delivered to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Brighton, Corbyn said Labour would also deliver action on the gender pay gap, equal rights for all workers from day one and the end of zero-hour contracts, claiming it would be the “biggest extension of rights for workers that [the] country has ever seen”.
He added nearly half a million people are still being paid less than the minimum wage and that too many employers “are getting away with flouting laws”. His government would create a Workers Protection Agency with “real teeth”, which has the power to enter workplaces and “bring prosecutions” on workers’ behalf, he said.
However, Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, said additional costs coming in to the restaurant trade could be “difficult to stomach”, and comes after a subdued month for restaurant groups in August – which saw collective like-for-like trading decrease by 0.2%.
He noted that margins are “already under pressure”, like-for-like sales are already falling and that businesses are “struggling to stand still at the moment”, and said any increase in direct costs “would not be welcome”.
Newman told Catering Today: “I think part of the problem that we are in at the moment is that these businesses have had a cycle of increased rent rolls, increasing rates and have been dealing with progressive increases in the national minimum wage.
“At the moment there is no natural increase in consumer demand at the moment, mainly due to Brexit uncertainty, so I think any more additional costs coming in the business will be difficult to stomach.”
Corbyn said: “Labour is on the side of the people in the real battle against the born-to-rule establishment that Johnson represents. We stand for the interests of the many – the overwhelming majority who do the work and pay their taxes – not the few at the top … who hoard the wealth and dodge their taxes.
“It’s Labour’s historic mission to transform people’s lives … and that transformation begins in the workplace.”
Trade union USDAW supported the announcement, and said that “only Labour can deliver the changes workers”. General secretary Paddy Lillis said: “Today Jeremy Corbyn set out policies and priorities for the next Labour government, clearly demonstrating that only Labour will deliver for working people who have suffered greatly under nine years on Conservative-led governments.
“Labour’s proposed Ministry for Employment Rights will ensure that the agenda for change will go throughout a term of office and beyond simply delivering a list promises in a manifesto.”