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Here’s an interesting development: Ed Miliband announced today that a Labour government would link the minimum wage to average earnings, after the Low Pay Commission proved itself woefully inadequate for the job.
Employers’ organisation the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) immediately leapt up to scream that politicians should not set wages, completely missing the point that, under Miliband’s plan, politicians wouldn’t.
CBI chief policy director Katja Hall gave verbal evidence of her inability to understand a simple issue when she told Radio 4’s Today programme: “The system we have at the moment has been really successful and that system involves the setting of the minimum wage by an independent Low Pay Commission… They have done a really good job and we think it’s much better the job is left to them rather than given to politicians.”
The Miliband plan would not give the job to politicians. It would make the minimum wage a percentage of the average wage.
Mr Miliband said it was a “basic right” that hard work should be rewarded with fair pay.
He also took time to talk to Today, saying: “This gets at what is a terrible scandal in this country… that we still have five million people in paid work, unable to make ends meet.”
Perhaps the reason the CBI doesn’t like this idea is the fact that the average wage includes its own members’ massively over-inflated salaries. Under the proposed scheme, every increase in their own paycheques would require a similar raise for the lowest-paid workers in the country.
There is no reasonable argument against that, but it is what they are arguing against, nonetheless.
Perhaps politicians’ next target should be the CBI itself.
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