FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has demanded an end to the minimum wage “rip-off” of young Scots. The Tory rebrand of the minimum wage has left around 89,000 young workers in Scotland– over a million across the UK – paid less for doing the same job purely because of their age.

Now Sturgeon has pledged that SNP MPs will work to make sure the next UK Government delivers equal pay for equal work by ending the rip-off of young workers.

Speaking at a campaign event, she also made plain that young people are set to pay the price of Brexit.

She told young activists in East Dunbartonshire, the seat currently held by LibDem leader Jo Swinson, that a vote for the SNP was a chance to escape Brexit, and choose a better future so opportunities for young people could be increased.

“Even before Brexit takes away so many opportunities for our young people, the Tories are already short-changing them with their discriminatory minimum wage policy,” said Sturgeon.

“Two people working alongside each other, doing the same job, could be paid entirely different wages, just because of their age. That is simply not fair.

“Around 89,000 young people in Scotland would be better off and able to get a better start in their working lives if they were simply paid the same legal living wage as their older colleagues.

“That rip-off is characteristic of a Tory government who are taking opportunities away from our young people. With their determination to deliver a Brexit that will close off opportunities for young people to work, to study and to travel around Europe and will hit the economy they rely on, this election is an opportunity to vote for a better future for all.

She added: “With a vote for the SNP, people across Scotland can change that, by escaping from Brexit and securing the right to choose a better future so we can right the wrongs that have taken place under the Tories.”

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of under 25s earning less than the current minimum wage of £8.21 for over 25s is 89,000 in Scotland with a total of 1,076,000 across the UK.

The rate for 16-17-year-olds is £4.35, the apprentice rate is £3.90, the youth development rate for 18-20-year-olds is £6.15, and the 21-24 year old “adult” rate is £7.70.

IN contrast the real living wage in Scotland, which is set according to the cost of living, is £9 an hour for everyone. It is a voluntary rate paid by employers. An estimated 380,000 people in Scotland earn below the threshold of £9.00, with part-time female workers particularly badly hit. Real average earnings are still around £4 lower than they were at their 2008 peak.

A recent survey by the STUC youth committee found that more than half of young workers in Scotland receive lower wages than their co-workers, despite doing the same job.

“The UK’s Minimum Wage law devalues young workers and allows employers to exploit their labour on the cheap”, the report said.

A recent analysis by the TUC showed that the average 21-24 year-old minimum wage worker is earning £800 a year less than over 25s.

The TUC has called for all over 21s to be brought onto the full minimum wage rate and for the minimum wage to be raised to £10 an hour as soon as possible.

“Young workers are still getting a raw deal on pay,” said an TUC spokesperson. “Their bills aren’t any cheaper, but they have to make ends meet with less. That’s just not fair.”