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The Minimum Wage

In the modern liberal society the minimum wage is championed as a historical progression fought for by the hand of the worker and for the benefit of the worker. In today’s age can we ask the question whether or not the minimum wage is good or bad?

The minimum wage was introduced in the UK in 1909 with the Trade Boards Act but was then expanded with the National Minimum Wage Act of 1998. This has guaranteed a level of remuneration for the worker and has set a minimum level of legality which the worker is due by his employer. In modern Britain there is a tiered system for the minimum wage organised by age. The minimum wage for 18+ is £5.30/h, 21+ is £6.70/h and 25+ is £7.20 which is also the new National Living Wage. The first idea I would like to discuss is whether the minimum wage is enough and whether or not it should be raised.

The new national Living Wage is a sign that not only do people want the minimum wage to be much higher but also that governments can indeed be encouraged to fulfil this wish. Is the minimum wage enough? The voluntary Living Wage is set at £9.40 in London and £8.25 elsewhere and is supposed to be based upon the actual cost of living. So there is room to say that the minimum wage should be far higher and in reality there should not be a tiered system based upon age but equally there is the argument that with higher wages comes reduced possibility of guaranteed employment for all. Therefore the idea that it should be raised is wholly acceptable and indeed should be followed through – is it right that people can be expected to work 40 hours in a week and still not have enough money to provide for themselves and their family? The second issue is whether or not the quality of most minimum wage jobs is acceptable for the work that is done.

I have just left a minimum wage job for which I was receiving £5.30/h. In the month where I worked about 45 hours each week I was due to take home about £800 for the month but this was gross. On top of this there were deductions for breaks and then National insurance deductions also and in reality I only received about £600. Now on top of this I had to drive 40 miles per shift so this set me back about £60 per week and I also had to buy a new more comfortable pair of shoes for the job and after all this I was left with about £400. I then have to pay my phone bill and I also give to some charities so then I am left with £350. Thankfully my parents don;t currently charge me digs as I am also at university but in reality I was walking away with less money than I received net from my student loan. Of course, you could argue that if I change my lifestyle I could save money and I would fully accept this argument but in reality I think there are two issues here: we live in the modern world where we are expected to live, at the base level, at least my kind of lifestyle and thus it would be near impossible for that to change and, secondly, the fact that an cialis 20mg individual can have their wage packet defiled so much beggars belief. One would almost expect all students to have to get more money somehow, like using a paydayloansnow service or the like. Now had I earned the next two wage bands up I would have, after all deductions, had about £550 in my pocket. However, had I earned the voluntary Living Wage it would have been roughly £800. I am only a 20 year old student who has no real responsibilities and as such I am not best example but this happens to people at the same workplace who are far older than me and have far more responsibilities than I.

The government has effectively allowed employers to pay the lowest legal limit which has no value in the real world because it cannot support a single person let alone a family. There is a lowest moral limit which would be the voluntary Living Wage but if employers are not forced to pay it then why would we expect them to – employers normally look the maximise profits at any cost. Now, can I expect my employer to change his lifestyle if in turn I am not willing to change mine? No. However, what gives my employer the right to have a superior lifestyle to me if I am willing to work more hours than him, sweat more than him and take it right in the teeth more than him? What gives middle and higher management this same right over me too? They have no right and as soon as this mystique surrounding the employer and manager goes then we might just get somewhere because in reality most of the staff on the floor could easily fit the managers’ and employers’ shoes if given half the chance.

The minimum wage is an outdated concept because it is seen as a legal limit when it isn’t even a provisional one. People deserve better and if treated better they will act so.

Image credit: flickr.com/wwarby

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Noah Brown

Name: Noah Surname: Brown City: Tweedsmuir Education: MA (Hons) Celtic at the University of Edinburgh Career Aspirations: Anything which challenges me How: Follow your nose and your heart Date of birth: 04.02.96 Email: noah.brown@young-perspective.net

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