The national minimum wage should be extended to 18-year-olds and apprentices as the recession hits younger workers hard.

That is the view of Trades Union Congress (TUC) assistant general secretary, Kay Carberry, who will be calling on the government to increase pay for the young at its Young Members Conference, starting today (March 27th).

Ms Carberry has argued that increasing pay for those in low earning jobs will help to boost the economy by raising the spending power of the young.

Commenting on the benefits of increasing salaries at the bottom of the pay scale, Ms Carberry said: "’As we seek to curb salary excess at top director level, we also need to boost pay at the bottom.

"This will speed up the process of economic recovery because increasing the disposable incomes of the low-paid is one of the best ways of increasing demand in the economy, and will create much more stability for the long-term."

Unison, the public sector union, recently called for the national minimum wage to be increased to £7.45 an hour by October 2010 as general secretary of the organisation, Dave Prentis, warned: "Fairness should be fundamental as the impact of the recession hits home."