Jeremy Corbyn has said that 16-year-old workers should be paid at least £10 an hour, as he addressed the Unison conference in Brighton.
The Labour manifesto included a pledge to raise the minimum wage to the level of the Living Wage – now paid to those aged 25 or over – for 18-24 year olds.
But questioned about whether 16-year-olds should get it, Mr Corbyn said it “should apply to all workers”.
“I don’t think young people eat less than old people,” he added.
The National Living Wage was introduced by the Conservative then-chancellor George Osborne in his July 2015 Budget.
As of April this year, it is paid at a rate of £7.50 an hour for workers aged 25 and over, with the aim of increasing it to £9 an hour by 2020.
Labour’s general election manifesto pledged to raise it to at least £10 an hour by 2020 for workers aged 18 or over. But when Mr Corbyn was asked whether 16-year-olds should get it as well, he replied: “You’re absolutely right.
“Yes, the £10 an hour living wage, real living wage, is correct and also should apply to all workers, because I don’t think young people eat less than old people – that’s my experience anyway.”
Currently workers aged 21-24 get a minimum wage of £7.05 an hour, while those aged 18-20 get £5.60 and under 18s get £4.05 an hour. If you are an apprentice. it can be as low as £3.50 an hour.
Mr Corbyn also used his address to the conference to link the Grenfell Tower fire, which is thought to have killed at least 79 people, to “austerity economics”.
“Make no mistake about it – this is the brutal reality of austerity economics that has failed in its own terms, and leading to falling living standards, rising inequality and disasters,” he said.
He added that Labour was “ready for another election at any time, to finish the job of beating the failed, clapped-out Tories and form a government that works for all”.