My Election Notes 2019: E-Day -31

by Pseud O'Nym

Now where did I put my huge happy hat? If only I could put it on, to celebrate the good news that, according to ‘The Guardian’ and others yesterday,

More than 210,000 workers in Britain are to receive a pay rise after the charity behind the living wage increased the national minimum hourly rate by 30p to £9.30.

Except that they’re not, well all of them anyway. Because the Living Wage Foundation is an ‘advisory’ body only, and employers are free to ignore their advice, without any legal sanction if they don’t, as they themselves make clear on their FAQ page,

The Living Wage is a voluntary higher rate of base pay.

But that’s all right because we have voluntary rises in our energy and food bills. We can choose whether to pay them or not. All the cost increases we face are voluntary, aren’t they? It’s not like we’d have our utilities cut off – which isn’t a euphemism – or have the bailiff’s visit is it, or have our homes repossessed now is it? But wait, there’s more guff

It provides a benchmark for responsible employers who choose to pay their employees a rate that meets the basic cost of living in the UK and London.

Ah yes, those ‘responsible employers’ we hear so much about, which rather conveniently overlooks the fact that a company directors primary responsibility is to maximize shareholders returns. As the Companies House website explains, that under the 2006 Companies Act,

The second major duty of a company director is to promote the success of the company. This is probably the most well-known of the 7 duties.

The duty states a director must act in a way that they consider, in good faith, would be most likely to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members (shareholders) as a whole.

The single most cost that an employer has control over is staff wages, and paying them more than they have to is incompatible with their legal obligation to ‘promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members (shareholders)’

We could be forgiven for thinking that zero hour contracts, and the ‘gig’ economy, job insecurity and low wages, food banks and ‘survival sex’ are realities for countless millions in the seventh largest economy in the world.

But they are, and a newly elected Conservative government on Friday 13th, keen to implement their Brexit bill, will only exacerbate these social ills.