TAKING THE LIVING WAGE TO THE REGIONS?


I've commented on the reasons why we should be campaigning for a "living wage" from the student halls of Kings College to the streets of Johannesburg, via the skyscrapers of the City and even across Europe. Friends have been advocating this too and even Obama's new labour secretary, Hilda Solis.

Just reading Mil's post and David Semple's post over at Liberal Conspiracy about regional minimum wages, after San Francisco's decision to increase its minimum wage, it reminded me that we need to push the councils where we live to define what the minimum hourly wage needed to live about the poverty line is - this may be different from city to city (compare London & Liverpool) and region to region (compare the South East and the North East). We also need to get the organisations that employ us to join the growing coalition of "living wage employers".

Obviously, we don’t all have “living wage units” like at the GLA in London, but the “minimum income standard” project run by the JRF provides a well researched measure of how much a worker needs to earn to avoid the effects of poverty, such as ill health, poor levels of child development and social exclusion and not just related to the consumer price index. Calculations can even be made for different family types. Have a look at
http://www.minimumincomestandard.org/cost_calculator/reckoner/index.htm and campaign in your workplace with our toolkit here!

What about the merits of a basic income? Don Paskini blogs that Namibia has introduced this whereby every citizen gets 100 dollars per month without being means-tested. This is paid for through more progressive taxation on those in poverty and higher taxes for those well off. I'm keen to find out more about this and will blog about basic income soon.


Photo by United Workers used under Creative Commons licence.

Do you want to share your experience of being involved in campaigning, your thoughts on an issue that matters to you? Get in touch at noel.hatch1@gmail.com

5 comments:

Paul said...

Before rushing into support for regionalisation of the minimum wage, we need to think through the possible, even probable, unintended consequences, e.g.:

a) a race to the bottom as bigger firms choose location on basis of how far they can push down a regional minimmum wage through consultation with weakish (local) governments (i.e.via CBI or simply via the muscle of capital, and often as threat rather than actual but no less effective for that.

b) the further undermining of the power of collective bargaining which - while I agreed with the national minimum wage as a pragmatic tool for redistriution in the late 1990s - does much to emasculate trade unions and would do more if it was regionalised (effectively part of the race to the botoom issue via a different route)

c) the risks that come with further sectorization of the national economy not just in terms of creating/reinforcing poor wage areas but in terms of the greater transportation INTEGRATION that this would preversely bring. The UK is already a very nationally integrated economy and this shows on the roads (why are French motorways so clear except on 'le grand depart'? Because of more regionalised economies in a bigger country.) While San Fran might similarly be a relatively self-contained economy (I wouldn't know) this is far from the case in the UK and regionalistion will only cause more flows rather than what we should be seeking in tyhe shorter term - increases in regional self-containment of the economy.

I have no problems, by the way, with the London Citizens-fronted push for the London living wage,which is admirable collective action-of-a-sort, but a legislated (at whatever government level) minimum wage is different.

While I think you do well to raise an interesting debate again, I think you misrepresent both Mil at 21st CenturyFix, who only asks the question, and particularly Dave Semple at Though Cowards Flinch (not Liberal Conspiracy,I'm sure that's just a typo) who is clearly not in favour of what you think is a good idea.

Dave Semple said...

I concur with Paul's sentiment, though I do blog at Liberal Conspiracy also - the regional minimum wage post was cross-posted.

Paul said...

Apologies, my mistake. So many blogs, so little time

noel said...

Paul, I referred to David's post about the regional minimum wage, not stating he supported it (apologies David if that's what you thought was implied).

I'm advocating for taking the living wage campaign out to the regions (as indicated by the title of my post), not for the regionalisation of the minimum wage...as it tackles the issues you rightly raise

The living wage campaign in london has not only not created a race to the bottom, it has in fact persuaded "the muscle of capital" like KPMG or Citigroup to implement the living wage in their own organisations. The living wage principles requires strong organising by the unions as well as citizen organisations...

Paul said...

Accept what you're saying about your clarity in the title, though i was referring to your text which read

'it reminded me that we need to push the councils where we live to define what the minimum hourly wage needed to live about the poverty line is - this may be different from city to city (compare London & Liverpool) and region to region (compare the South East and the North East).'

But anyway, we agree now. That's a good thing.