Labour leader Ed Miliband has pledged that the party will increase the minimum wage if it wins the general election.
He told the national conference of the GMB union that Labour would not just increase the rate, it will narrow the gap between the minimum wage and average earnings.
“A country can only succeed if those who work hard and do the right thing get a fair day’s pay. That’s why I guarantee today: the next Labour government will increase the minimum wage.”
He told delegates at the Nottingham conference that a Labour government would also act on loopholes in rules on agency workers which he said were used to undermine the pay of permanent employees.
Aides said Mr Miliband’s pledge was more “vivid” than previously stated.
The Labour leader added that quality jobs were being hit by zero hours contracts “spreading like wildfire”, saying: “There’s no place for exploitative zero hours contracts in Britain today. So the next Labour government will have a simple rule – if week after week you do regular hours, you deserve a regular contract, not a zero hours contract.”
Mr Miliband also pledged that a Labour government would help more employers to pay the living wage, currently set at £7.65 an hour and £8.80 in London, above the minimum wage, which is due to rise to £6.50 in October.
He said there was a “low pay epidemic” in Britain which “shames us all”, stressing that a living wage would benefit business by improving productivity and reducing staff turnover.
Mr Miliband laid out Labour’s plans to build more houses, freeze energy prices and “save” the NHS, which was “going backwards” under the Tories.
“It will be up to the next Labour government to protect and improve our NHS, stop the Tory privatisation and repeal the Health and Social Care Bill.”
The GMB has cut its funding to Labour by £1m a year in retaliation for reforms to links between the party and unions.