Browsing Twitter this morning, two of my followers tweeted this link: here. I’d like to just go through it outlining why I think Dr Eamonn Butler is so wrong on this occasion, hopefully without getting too vitriolic, but you never know.
“I want to see the pay and conditions improve for the lowest-paid workers… But it is now obvious that the minimum wage is keeping out of work those – like younger people, unskilled workers, women and ethnic minorities – who need job opportunities the most.”
Really? You want to see pay improve AND scrap the minimum wage? As I understand it, the minimum wage was set up precisely to improve pay… how is it possible that scrapping it would be a Good Thing? The difference between £3.50 an hour to £5.25 is nothing to be scoffed at. And speaking as a young, unskilled female ethnic minority, you sound rather patronising.
“Of course, there is an economic downturn, so jobs are harder to get and unemployment is higher. But where is it highest? Yes, precisely among these groups.”
Excuse me if I’m being crass, but hasn’t unemployment always been highest among young, unskilled female ethnic minorities? How will scrapping the minimum wage change this?
“They (trade unions) wanted to elevate the entire wage scale by raising the wages of their lowest paid members.”
I think there’s a big difference between elevating the wage scale, and narrowing the pay gap. Just because you start paying your cleaner an extra £2 an hour, it does not follow that you have to increase the significantly higher salary of your CEO in line with this. Those bastard trade unions, doing what they can to improve the standard of living for workers.
“We can devise any number of costly New Deal programmes to help train up those who have few work skills. But where can you get the best possible training for a job? Yes, in a job.”
So what you’re saying is that employers can’t afford to employ people at the measly sum set by minimum wage, therefore lowering the minimum wage would mean that at least people who really wanted to work can do so for a few pennies. Right?
Wrong. What you’d end up with is a lot of people working AND claiming benefits to make up the difference. In South London, where I live, to qualify for income support and housing benefits, you have to be on £16k a year. Is that a good thing? Yes, more people are getting experience, but the government is still having to subsidise it. Surely it’s better all round to close the pay gap, than ignore it completely? Also, it’s putting rather a lot of trust in employers to employ more people at whatever rate they can get away with, rather than just valuing a fellow human being by ensuring that they can afford to feed themselves and, heaven forbid, keep a roof over their head.
Minimum wage is just over £10k (depending on your age and location I think). Try living on less than this after tax. Go on, I dare you.