Jeremy Corbyn has recently declared that there need be equal pay across, not only different genders, but also age groups. No longer should under 25s be paid less than those over 25, and no longer should under 18s be paid less than those over 18. Hear, hear!
As a 24 year old who has been working for £6.95, and then £7.05, an hour for the last year while studying, this is a welcome statement. And also seemingly to me, a fair statement. Imagine my surprise upon my sharing the article on Facebook, along with the comment “why do I deserve less for performing the same job”, that the first comment was “what an arsehole, where does he keep his magic money tree?” I realise that finding the money to fix the NHS, fund a fair minimum wage, and fund schools is a little like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack, however, the sentiment hardly strikes me as coming from an arsehole. If so, the one maintaining the wealth of corporations and the richest 5% must be positively satanic! It is particularly abhorrent to me that this statement came from a woman, who grew up with free education and training, and whose mother is of the generation who had to fight and campaign for her right to equal pay.
I have heard complaints that small businesses could not cope with the increase, but surely they could be given support, particularly in the form of tax breaks while they adjusted to the new demands. And if long-term it still wasn’t feasible, then how solvent was their business initially? Funnily enough, people complained when the minimum wage was first introduced and when women fought for equal pay to men. Oh there isn’t enough money, companies will go bust, we haven’t got the resources. Well, they found the money somewhere. Perhaps we should ask for a cutting from their magic money tree. And why does equal pay apply only to gender? You can (according to the law if not biology) have a child at 16, at 18 you can marry without your parents’ permission, and you can rent (usually with a guarantor, but still). But you cannot receive a fair wage.
I am 24. I have a Bachelor’s degree, speak 4 languages, have an English teaching qualification, music qualifications, and am studying for a Master’s. In order to have achieved these, I have needed to earn money to pay for the education that is no longer free. So I earn at a lower rate than others, despite doing the same job.
Imagine the uproar if the degrees of pay were mirrored at the other end of the age spectrum. £7.50 for under 55s, £7.05 for 55-60, £6.70 for 60-65, and a measly £5.95 for 65 and overs. Yes, they have experience which youngsters lack, but arguably lack the adaptability and quickness of mind of the younger generation.
I am not asking to be paid £40k a year for waitressing. I am asking that fairness prevails, and the discrimination that has been criminalised in cases of gender be mirrored in cases of age. This does not make me a communist. I am not saying hand out free cash and give everyone the same wage. But, fairness and morality dictate that those performing the same job be paid the same wage, regardless of gender. Regardless of age.