Tag Archives: minimum wage

Why won’t people work for nothing?

Carl Cooper, 26, owns his own business – Car Smart UK in Canterbury, and had what must have seemed at the time to be a very bright idea.

It’s a real problem for a small business. You got a good idea, there’s a demand for it, you put in a lot of hours building up your business, but there are only so many hours in the day, you cannot be two places at once, you can’t talk on the phone to two different car dealerships simultaneously, you need more people. But the moment you bring new people in, the whole situation changes.

One big problem which does not occur to many people in Carl Cooper’s situation: you can be very good at running your own business but an absolutely terrible manager. But the cashflow problem is something you just can’t ignore.

Even if you just pay your new employee minimum wage, they’ve got to bring the company – that is, you! – a minimum of £4000 each quarter (allowing for 25% over the cost of their wages) just to break even. The chances are that even if you advertise for someone who can “hit the ground running”, an employee’s first few weeks will not be their most productive – they’re learning the job, learning what you expect of them. But you still need to pay them. Then if they’re telesales workers, you’ve got to rent more office space, buy the desks, get phones and phone lines and computers and all – huge expense, and their wages are really just the last straw, because you’ve got to pay them that whether they’re any good or not….

Imagine a little light-bulb coming on over Carl Cooper’s head. Continue reading

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Filed under Annoying Phone Calls, Benefits, Supermarkets

No union should support workfare

Minimum wage: it’s not just a good idea, it’s the law.

In the UK, if you are over 21, your employer must pay you a minimum wage of at least £6.08 per hour. If you are aged 18-20, your employer must pay you at least £4.98 per hour. If you are 16 or 17, the legal minimum is £3.68. And apprentice wages were lowered still further in October last year, to £2.60 per hour for all apprentices under 19 and all first-year apprentices regardless of age.

None of this now applies to people who are 16-24 and claiming JSA. They can now be made to provide 30 hours work a week for a month at a time, for what amounts to a wage of £1.76 per hour. This wage is not paid by their employers: it is provided by the government. The employers get paid by the government to “accept” this free labour.

I joined the Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union in 1999, after some discussion with an adviser at the STUC about which union was more appropriate for my line of work. MSF got folded into Amicus and Amicus into UNITE, so I’m now a UNITE member. But I could easily have decided to join the Communication Workers Union in 1999. And it appalls me that any union would, on any justification, agree to endorse a policy of bringing in unpaid labour for weeks at a time.

Yet that’s just what CWU have done, adopting the corporate line that workfare is a “work experience programme”.
Continue reading

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Filed under Benefits