The bare minimum – and what it gets you

COMMUNICATING with people who have opposing points of view can be very valuable and I advise everybody to try it.

I mention this because I have been chatting with some of the folk on the Conservatives’ Facebook page, about this week’s big subject – work and working conditions. It follows my article, Benefits v bonuses – everybody’s a loser, to which some of them took offence, and I wanted to draw your attention to our dialogue about the minimum wage.

They want it dropped. One of them claimed it has devalued jobs, saying that he used to work in a warehouse, driving forklift trucks, for around £9 per hour – but when the minimum wage was brought in, the hourly rate went down all over the warehousing industry and suddenly idiots were driving trucks, taking no care in what they were doing.  If they did something wrong, they were sacked and another employed who was just as bad.

This indicates that “you get what your worth”, the gentleman said, and then asked how small businesses can be expected to survive when they have to pay a good wage, even if the person is no good.

My answer was that, unfortunately, you don’t get what you’re worth.
Employers try to pay the lowest amount possible, and in the case of these forklift truck drivers that was the absolute minimum. You pay peanuts, you get monkeys (as the saying goes) and that’s what happened – the quality of the workforce dropped.
If the workforce had been unionised, it could have negotiated for better pay and higher-quality workers. I know unions have not been very strong since the days of Mrs Thatcher – but they do have their uses sometimes!

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