Ken Livingstone and the living wage


by Sunny
23rd June, 2007 at 3:51 am    

Ken Livingstone’s attempts to make the ‘living wage’ a vital plank of his policies in London should be wholly supported in my view. On Thursday he managed to help defeat an attempt to block a living wage provision for cleaners. All those opposed to the living wage were Conservative party members and his attack on them yesterday is also to be applauded.

It is of course a great example of “progressive” policies to describe the proposal to pay cleaners, one of the lowest paid groups of workers in London, a living wage as ridiculous. But at least Londoners now know what a vote for this “progressive” agenda means – a vote to cut cleaners pay.

His pandering towards dodgy Sikh, Hindu and Sikh groups may be a problem but on poverty and green issues he is right more often than not.


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  1. Roger — on 23rd June, 2007 at 9:44 am  

    Well, the Olympics aren’t much of a contribution to green issues, but as far as the living wage goes he’s bang right. Allowing people to pay less than that and then giving allowances to the peole employed is yet another subsidy for the rich.

  2. Tim Worstall — on 23rd June, 2007 at 11:15 am  

    Sunny, you’ll have to run this by me again. I do understand a bit of economics but the logic here somehow escapes me.
    By paying cleaners a higher than market wage the Fire Authorities will employ fewer people. So why is people getting fired a good idea?

  3. ZinZin — on 23rd June, 2007 at 11:27 am  

    Tim, Do you know that the London fire authority is handing out redundancies because of the living Wage? Or are you making that up?

  4. PCoE — on 23rd June, 2007 at 2:15 pm  

    Well done Ken

    Hopefully there will be a few more like him who are unafraid to back the living wages campaigns and other important policies aimed at tackling poverty in Gordon Brown’s ‘government of all talents’

  5. Tim Worstall — on 23rd June, 2007 at 6:12 pm  

    I know that the London Fire Authority will be handing out redundnacies, or at least some combination of shorter hours and hiring fewer people in the future. That’s what people do when the relative costs of capital and labour change, they substitute one for the other.
    If you want proof of this you can go and read the Low Pay Commission’s own report on hte matter. They’ve got a very interesting survey they did of the reactions of businesses who employed minimum wage labour to an increase in the minimum wage. They did exactly as theory would predict, laid off labour, cut hours for those who remained.
    Why on earth would you think that anyone would do anything else?

  6. Don — on 23rd June, 2007 at 6:41 pm  

    The Living Wage seems to equate to around £13,000 – 15,000 per annum.

    Is it possible to live and work in London for less than that?

    I have a lot of respect for Tim, and I am certainly no economist, but it seems to me that if one of the most affluent cities on earth wants its basic functions maintained then it must either pay a living wage, rely on undocumented peonage, or (as Roger points out) subsidise from the public purse.

  7. Sunny — on 23rd June, 2007 at 7:23 pm  

    Tim, this is about what is morally right. If we all have to pay a bit more for services then I’m ok with that. But the shockingly low wages that cleaners get is not acceptable in the UK.

    I know what you’re getting at in terms of economics, as I studied it too. But this is one issue where I feel that its time we stopped bowing to the market so much and took attention of people’s living conditions.

  8. Katy Newton — on 23rd June, 2007 at 7:57 pm  

    Is it morally right to force an employer to raise its wages if the result is that some people lose their jobs altogether?

    I genuinely struggle with that question, because I hate the fact that cleaners get paid so poorly. But I think the answer is no.

  9. Tim Worstall — on 24th June, 2007 at 12:57 pm  

    Sunny and Don. There is indeed a moral issue here. Now, let’s take this away from a tax funded organisation like the Fire Service and pretend that we’re talking about a private business.
    We’ll still have the bad and unwanted effect that hours and or employment will be cut as a result of a living or minimum wage.
    But now, when we increase it, that extra is paid by some combination of the customers of the business in higher prices (thus hurting those poor people we’re hoping to help and yes, we would expect the poor to be disproportionately users of products of low wage labour), the above workers who lose hours or their job and the returns to the investors in the business.
    So, in order to meet or resolve this moral dilemma, you’re saying that it should be “them over there” who pay to meet your moral standards.
    Wouldn’t it actually be more moral if, for example, “we as a society” state that such low wages are immoral and thus “we as a society” are going to raise them that “we as a society” actually did the paying for them?
    That is, that we raised the tax credits for the working poor? (After we’ve done such obvious things like getting rid of the absurd situation that such poor actually pay income tax and NI of course).
    If £ 6 an hour is immoral, that those stating its immorality be willing to put their hands in their pockets through the tax system?

  10. Don — on 24th June, 2007 at 1:52 pm  

    ‘… we would expect the poor to be disproportionately users of products of low wage labour…’

    Is that really the case? The issue here is specifically London and specifically cleaners. How are the poor disproportionately users of Central London cleaners?

    In a tax funded organisation such as the Fire Service or the NHS then of course the money should come from tax-payers; it never occurred to me to call upon ‘them over there’. If better budget management can’t meet basics such as a living wage then the budget should be increased and if that means paying slightly higher taxes/council tax then I have no problem with that.

  11. Devil's Kitchen — on 24th June, 2007 at 5:37 pm  

    if that means paying slightly higher taxes/council tax then I have no problem with that.

    Wow! That’s generous of you. What you mean is that you are happy for everyone to pay higher taxes to help pay for your conscience. Nice.

    Tell you what, all those who are happy to pay higher taxes; you pay ‘em. You can, in fact, donate money to your council (or the Treasury) if you like, so on you go, my son.

    DK

  12. justforfun — on 24th June, 2007 at 6:17 pm  

    Reading this thread you can understand how slavery was justified for so long. “Poor things – without my employment what would they do?” _ “I only enslave them for their own good. Where else will they get three meals and roof over thier heads”

    I of course as an employer take the view that its only correct that my fellow citizens should pay extra taxes to enable me to exploit my capital to the maximum. Their taxes enable social cohesion which is a good thing, is it not? I mean if they did not bring up my employees wages to a living income, there would be a breakdown in the social fabric. If they stopped paying this ‘top up’, it would be my fellow citizens fault , NOT mine, because I am at least giving them a job.

    Is the above moral? – It seems to be in this Alice in Wonderland world.

    What bollokxS – dependancy culture works both ways. The one we talk about is the dependancy culture of those on benefit. But the other side is the “dependancy culture” of business. The total dependancy of most businesses owners on the rest of society subsidising their exploitation of workers for their own profit and gain.

    If a job can’t be done for a living wage , it deserves not to be done.

    Justforfun

  13. Devil's Kitchen — on 24th June, 2007 at 6:31 pm  

    Reading this thread you can understand how slavery was justified for so long.

    Oh, I quite agree. After all, until June 1st this year, I was a slave of the state. Strictly for my own good, of course.

    DK

  14. Refresh — on 24th June, 2007 at 6:36 pm  

    Justforfun – very well put.

    Here is a subject I would not worry too much about consensus – corporate welfare is the biggest scandal this country has yet to face up to.

    Politically it seems valid to pursue and criminalise the poor whether its through ASBOS or as scroungers. When the real plunder of the country goes on without a murmur. On the contrary, its welcomed and celebrated whether its through PFI contracts, MBEs, Knighthoods or Lordships.

    Let them eat cake, I hear you say?

    viva la revolution.

  15. Devil's Kitchen — on 24th June, 2007 at 6:38 pm  

    When the real plunder of the country goes on without a murmur.

    Ah, so your contention is that all businesses do is to rape the wealth of the country. They don’t create wealth?

    What an interesting idea.

    DK

  16. Don — on 24th June, 2007 at 6:42 pm  

    ‘What you mean is that you are happy for everyone to pay higher taxes…’

    Well, obviously. If it were just me it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference, besides being rather discriminatory. I certainly wasn’t proposing a tax on Don as the answer to the country’s problems.

    ‘…to help pay for your conscience.’

    How did my conscience get into this? If you want your hospitals etc. cleaned then you will have to employ cleaners. If the institution is in Hull or Sunderland you might get away with less than twelve grand a year and still be paying a living – albeit miserly – wage. But not in central London. Or perhaps I’m wrong – is it possible to live and work in London on a gross income of less than a grand a month? If not then there will need to subsidies of one form or another, coming from the public purse.

    The alternative is to accept a massive and permanent underclass of peons making bare survival wages to maintain our key institutions and major corporations, while punting millions on art installations and bonding events for management. I don’t think you need a particularly tender conscience to find that unacceptable.

    I gather you don’t like paying tax. I can sympathise with that, but if you want public services to be effective you are going to have to pay for them and one aspect of that is budgeting for the basic services.
    If one of the principle tenets of the budgeting process is ‘Hey, there’s a whole bunch of vulnerable people we could screw to save a few bob.’ then the process has taken a wrong turn.

  17. Refresh — on 24th June, 2007 at 6:48 pm  

    DK, did I say that?

  18. Don — on 24th June, 2007 at 6:53 pm  

    In DK world you did.

  19. Tim Worstall — on 24th June, 2007 at 6:56 pm  

    Don, there’s two good points you make there. Of course living costs differ across the country. That’s why there should be no national wage negotiations, nor a national minimum wage.
    You also note art installations and someone else talks about corporate subsidies. I agree, let’s do away with all of those. Seriously. Shut down the DTI, the Arts Council, government spending on art of any type at all….there’s £10 billion at the DTI for a start and the AC is another what, 500 large a year? Let me loose on government spending and I’ll soon save a £100 billion or so. You want some of that to go on higher wages for cleaners? Be happy to oblige.

    Now all I need to do is work out how to win an election of course.

  20. Clairwil — on 24th June, 2007 at 9:33 pm  

    Refresh,
    You might enjoy some of the stuff here

    http://www.anxietyculture.com/contents.htm

  21. Sunny — on 24th June, 2007 at 9:34 pm  

    Let me loose on government spending and I’ll soon save a £100 billion or so. You want some of that to go on higher wages for cleaners? Be happy to oblige.

    Or of course we could start taxing the non-domiciles properly and raise inheritance tax. The Arts Council employs a lot of people in London, I don’t want to see any funding cut for that.

    I agree, let’s do away with all of those.

    But the debate isn’t about whther subsidy of arts is a waste or not. It’s about whether large companies that are happy to pay their top stars stupid bonuses but don’t want to pay their cleaners an extra 2 pounds per hour. I doubt they’re really going to feel the pinch.

  22. Refresh — on 24th June, 2007 at 10:11 pm  

    Clairwil, thanks. I think you are right, I might just enjoy that one.

    Within minutes of browsing, I found this:

    “Benefit claimants to face lie detector tests

    Benefit claimants will face lie detector tests, in a “crackdown on fraud”, the government says. (Such fraud is currently worth £0.7 billion per year, compared to £14 billion in business fraud and £85 billion in corporate tax avoidance). Voice Risk Analysis technology picks up signs of stress when telling lies. These are measured against the “normal” voice, “ensuring that nervousness or shyness is not a trigger”. (Guardian, 5/4/07) http://politics.guardian.co.uk/homeaffairs/story/0,,2050811,00.html”

  23. Refresh — on 24th June, 2007 at 10:13 pm  

    DK,

    Be interested on more of your thoughts on all these wealth creators.

    Tim,

    I don’t think we need your expertise to pull in that £100 billion after all.

  24. Clairwil — on 24th June, 2007 at 10:35 pm  

    Refresh,
    I had a bit of a rant about that a while back here

    http://amischiefofmagpies.blogspot.com/2005_10_11_archive.html

  25. Refresh — on 24th June, 2007 at 11:36 pm  

    Excellent piece. Loved this one:

    “If David Blunkett wasn’t blind already I’d poke his eyes out.”

  26. Matt — on 24th June, 2007 at 11:43 pm  

    Sunny >The Arts Council employs a lot of people in London, I don’t want to see any funding cut for that.

    I wasn’t aware that the Arts Council existed to employ people. If it is employing more people than are needed to do the job, then *of course* they should be cut – patently obviously. That way the Arts Council can spend its money on the Arts – call me naive but I thought that was the idea.

    The morally correct way is to do the job effectively with the minimum number of people to do it.

    That way resources are not wasted, and can be spent on something other than wasted effort.

    I wonder if Gordon Brown will learn that now he is PM. He certainly didn’t get it when he was Chancellor.

  27. Sunny — on 25th June, 2007 at 12:11 am  

    I wasn’t aware that the Arts Council existed to employ people.

    I meant indirectly of course…

  28. Refresh — on 25th June, 2007 at 12:25 am  

    Matt, I think both Blair and Brown got it. Unfortunately only too well.

    Just as Thatcher thought that council house sales (and unsustainable rises in house prices) would break the link between Labour and the working class, Blair and Brown saw that they could do the same thing with the middle classes.

    They have developed a consultancy culture*, where the middle classes are encouraged to become consultants at extortionate rates thus keeping them onside. So all those huges sums of government spending seems to end up in the pockets of the middle classes as management or business advisors or PR gurus.

    And in my opinion consultancy culture is the middle class version of the so called dependency culture.

    So nothing has really changed – the middle classes had always got the most out of the welfare state, only nobody would have thought so.

    The working class, sadly are never so presumptious to expect anything and live a life of guilt for even having to call on the state.

  29. Matt Wardman — on 25th June, 2007 at 3:14 am  

    >I wasn’t aware that the Arts Council existed to employ people.
    >I meant indirectly of course…

    OK – I’ll let you off .

  30. Matt Wardman — on 25th June, 2007 at 3:57 am  

    >Matt, I think both Blair and Brown got it. Unfortunately only too well.

    No. They have not got the first inkling of a feeling of a possibility of a notion of a clue. If they had got it we would a) not be suffering the biggest case of public sector bloat in our history, b) have had almost 10 years of government claims that the main mark of success is spending lots of money on services (success is an output not an input) and c) have seen hundreds of billions of money and hundreds of thousands of staff extra resulting in a CUT in productivity in the NHS – which is what has happened.

    >They have developed a consultancy culture*, where the middle classes are encouraged to become consultants at extortionate rates thus keeping them onside. So all those huges sums of government spending seems to end up in the pockets of the middle classes as management or business advisors or PR gurus.

    If consultants are able to take the customer to the cleaners, that is ultimately the fault of the customer – who manages the consultant, This is just as a failed organisation is the Chief Exec’s responsibility.

    Also, you are too sweeping in your condemnation of consultancy. *Properly managed*, consultants bring a wider experience and knowledge into a situation where the client does not have or cannot justify in house expertise. The consultancy project I completed three months ago delivered the project in a third of the time the public sector customer was expecting and achieved a lot of things they didn’t think were possible – mainly due to previous experience of similar projects in similar environments.

    My view is basically as above: the New Labour generation of leaders simply never had a clue about how to run anything (see the NHS, passport office, farm payments etc etc etc), and had sold their ethical souls to the devil to get in power (see – for example – the number of political turncoats and the willingness to manipulate the truth). 20 years out of government and a party full of non-managerial/commercial professions probably guaranteed most of that.

    I’d suggest that it is a failure of management, political ethics, and properly enforced and consistent corporate / personal ethics (too much revolving door). Two examples (leaving aside all the ex-ministers working as Board Members and peerages/favours for sale): the Hospital Telephone company that charges you so much to phone from your bed was founded by Doctors; a large proportion of non-religious “ceremonies” are performed by a company founded by ex-Registrars who knew how Council’s work and had the inside track. Why was this possible?

    I’ve blogged several times why I think GB has hashed up the tax system in favour of expensive corporate consultants against cheap smaller ones. See the link on my name, for example.

    >And in my opinion consultancy culture is the middle class version of the so called dependency culture.
    >So nothing has really changed – the middle classes had always got the most out of the welfare state, only nobody would have thought so.
    >The working class, sadly are never so presumptious to expect anything and live a life of guilt for even having to call on the state.

    You need to define “middle class” and “working class” exactly before I can answer that. I am not convinced the division exists any longer.

    Sorry for long reply.

  31. bananabrain — on 25th June, 2007 at 9:45 am  

    i notice ken is all for higher wages for london-based cleaners, but doesn’t have anything to say about the chinese company he seems happy to have running the north london line. what price tibet? or human rights for christians in china? what about their green credentials? can you imagine what he’d say if it was an *israeli* company?

    what a hypocritical newt-sucking adenoidal bolshevik that man is.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  32. Refresh — on 25th June, 2007 at 10:04 am  

    Matt, whilst I agree with you about bloat, my point stands. Blair’s strategy was a mirror of Thatcher’s.

    Politically they have benefitted from the ‘waste’. They bought the middle classes, one because they were their natural allies and the other because they were their natural enemies.

    I am not attacking the consultants per se. I am attacking the Blair government.

    Class divisions are there and have been exacerbated. I understand from the latest reports that social mobility has become the worst in decades.

    Defining them on the whole has become bit trickier. For now I’ll go with those that own their property, are in full time work, do not need family credit are able to exercise choice in most spheres of their lives and specifically choice of schools. etc etc.

  33. Refresh — on 25th June, 2007 at 10:06 am  

    Bananabrain, you’re becoming a bit shrill in your attacks on Ken Livingstone.

  34. Refresh — on 25th June, 2007 at 10:07 am  

    Matt, as for the point of the thread, do you think people deserve a living wage?

  35. Refresh — on 25th June, 2007 at 10:17 am  

    More on the middle classes:

    “Six out of 10 ‘commit crimes’

    More than six out of 10 people regularly commit crimes against their employers, businesses and the Government, a survey has claimed.

    Researchers at Keele University found crime was rife in the middle classes, and claimed their findings exposed the “law-abiding majority” to be a myth.

    A poll of 1,807 people in England and Wales found 61% had committed one of a series of offences, including paying “cash in hand”, keeping money when given too much change, wrongly using and swapping identity cards for their own gain and stealing from work.

    A large number of offenders in the poll were categorised as middle class and “respectable” by the academics.”

    “http://www.guardian.co.uk/uklatest/story/0,,-6733902,00.html”

  36. sonia — on 25th June, 2007 at 10:26 am  

    yes the living wage campaign is a really good one and I’m glad Ken supported it and is carrying on doing so. we got one of those living wage employer awards..

  37. sonia — on 25th June, 2007 at 10:30 am  

    frankly most organisations don’t directly employ their cleaners – they employ them through cleaning firms. these firms are the ones getting lots of money ( like other agencies) from the client and paying less money to the cleaners.

    so are people intimating they are against the concept of a minimum wage? the only difference here is the amount.

  38. sonia — on 25th June, 2007 at 10:35 am  

    and surely the same arguments could be made ( and probably were) about employment rights. “oh if we make the employers give their employees rights they won’t want to employ them so lots of people will be unemployed”

    surely that’s why these things have to be societal standards that everyone signs up to – so the standards as a whole are raised.

    and if employers feel they can’t afford to pay such wages, well they might have to renegotiate their fat cat pay etc. Or we might demand that all these private equity company fat cats who apparently get away with paying 10% tax ( can you imagine – how outrageous is that?) don’t get away with it anymore.

    we clearly have problems with what work we value in our society for these kinds of imbalances to keep perpetuating.

  39. sonia — on 25th June, 2007 at 10:38 am  

    and bananabrain – you might find a lot of london-based cleaners are from somewhere else and normally exploited by these cleaning agencies. the living wage campaign therefore is aimed at helping these people, amongst others. I temped for one of these cleaning agencies and you no doubt would be shocked if you saw how they were treated.

  40. Katy — on 25th June, 2007 at 10:45 am  

    including paying “cash in hand”

    I love you, Refresh, but either you or the author of the study is mistaken if you/they think that paying someone cash in hand is a crime. It isn’t. Cash is still legal tender, or was last time I checked.

  41. Refresh — on 25th June, 2007 at 11:03 am  

    Katy, you’ve cheered me up. No one else could have been so discerning.

    I suspect the author was thinking about defrauding the VAT man, by not paying VAT and the person receiving, not declaring.

    But yes, you are right cash is legal.

    From a legal perspective, who is commiting the crime when people in this way?

  42. Refresh — on 25th June, 2007 at 11:04 am  

    oops, correction:

    From a legal perspective, who is commiting the crime when people trade in this way?

  43. Tim Worstall — on 25th June, 2007 at 11:08 am  

    “so are people intimating they are against the concept of a minimum wage?”

    Yes, of course.

  44. Katy — on 25th June, 2007 at 12:05 pm  

    Well, the crime is not in the method of payment for either the employer or the employee. It doesn’t matter if you get paid by cheque, cash, bank transfer or direct debit. How you do your tax return is a different question.

  45. Katy — on 25th June, 2007 at 5:40 pm  

    I’ve just read the article again and I am still a bit baffled. If you pay someone in cash how are you avoiding tax yourself? Assuming you’re not a business, that is? A private individual who gets paid a salary derives no illicit or indeed licit advantage from paying a worker in cash.

    *bemused*

  46. bananabrain — on 25th June, 2007 at 5:43 pm  

    everyone i know who has a cleaner pays them far more than the minimum wage anyway because that’s the going rate that the market has set – these are private arrangements of course so no company is making a margin on it. it’s the same for babysitting – even they get more than minimum wage and that’s just for sitting on their behinds doing homework, or, knowing teenagers, probably whacking off. mind you, if there’s money in it….

    i don’t think it’s shrill of me to point out the manifest hypocrisy in our oh-so-progressive stalinist mayor kowtowing to such egregious human rights violators (and the paymasters of the genocidal sudanese regime via their oil contracts) as the chinese whilst presenting himself as the friend of all oppressed people everywhere.

    and as for a living wage, what the hell about us “hard-working families”? if someone as well-educated and financially solvent as me has to struggle to afford a family home in london, whilst footing the ever-increasing council tax bills and the bottomless black hole that will undoubtedly be the olympics, how the hell is anyone like a “key worker” supposed to live here? notice i’m not even blaming immigrants because i know they’re not the problem – at least not the poor ones! it’s the rich ones that are driving up prices for the middle classes which in turn is driving up prices for the working class! ken is keeping mighty quiet about the real powerbrokers at the treasury – but then he doesn’t want the Clunking Fist aimed at him i expect.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  47. Refresh — on 25th June, 2007 at 7:08 pm  

    Come on Bananabrain. You’ll be blaming the influx of the oligarchs on our Ken, next.

    So a living wage is not supported because of your anything but Livingstone attitude.

  48. David — on 25th June, 2007 at 8:23 pm  

    ‘His pandering towards dodgy Sikh, Hindu and Sikh groups’

    No dodgy Muslim groups? How peculiar.

  49. ZinZin — on 25th June, 2007 at 8:43 pm  

    Oh shit I’ve been taking pens from work. I put them in my pocket by mistake.

    Then again they steal my life, I steal their stationary.

  50. bananabrain — on 26th June, 2007 at 9:28 am  

    Come on Bananabrain. You’ll be blaming the influx of the oligarchs on our Ken, next.

    for once, no – as i implied earlier, that is a matter for the treasury and HMRC, who seem incapable of preventing london’s property market being used as an investment vehicle rather than as a shared resource for people who actually bloody live here. fund managers can’t afford kensington and chelsea any more, so they move to st john’s wood and hampstead, so the people who would normally move there end up in my neck of the woods pushing prices up to ridiculous levels, so people like me (although, only by the grace of G!D, not me) end up having to move to places like borehamwood and willesden in order to afford anything decent, which prices those places out of the reach of aspirational blue-collar workers, which i feel is wrong. however, you’ll never get ken picking up the cudgels on behalf of the middle-class, for all that it is us who get hit in the pocket for all his hare-brained schemes.

    So a living wage is not supported because of your anything but Livingstone attitude.

    that’s not what i’m saying. i’m saying the market is functioning quite effectively in finding a price well *above* the minimum wage (i don’t know about a “living” wage, because that is effectively dependent upon HMRC and fixed costs such as council tax, utilities, rent and mortgages) and that rather than have politicians trying to rig the market, incentivise people to get the wages up by collecting taxes properly, believe me that’ll get the prices up – although, naturally, it will be people like me who employ cleaners who will foot the bill as usual.

    i do loathe ken, as you know, though there is one subject on which we do see eye to eye, namely urban 4x4s, which i would tax off the road, not for reasons of pollution (after all, most of them are far less polluting nowadays than older cars) but for reasons of sheer road space – and the behaviour of their drivers, which i believe is exacerbated by their profile.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  51. Refresh — on 26th June, 2007 at 9:41 am  

    I would like Ken support extradition of the oligarchs back to Russia, their assets frozen – well actually have them stripped off their assets, after all they were stolen from the poor. I suspect Ken would like that as policy.

    As for the Equity chappies, they are nothing but asset strippers. They should be rigged. Rigged from lamposts.

    Agree entirely on tax collection and I would like corporate welfare exposed. Windfall taxes all round, company by company basis if necessary.

    As for the cleaners, if the market is offering a living wage why is they are not receiving it?

  52. bananabrain — on 26th June, 2007 at 2:49 pm  

    gosh refresh, you’re a real disciple of denis healy, aren’t you? unfortunately, it’s not terribly practical to behave like that. i think (how blairite of me!) that a middle way would be a leetle bit more realistic – you get a lot more tax out of people if they think they’re paying a reasonable amount and don’t have an incentive to avoid and evade. i’m not really talking about the abramoviches and berezovskys of the world, more about the offshore corporate investors speculating in london property whilst renting said properties out to city high-flyers on secondment. i don’t think you actually need to start stringing people up – closing some of the tax loopholes and arranging the tax regime to advantage UK citizens and domiciled workers is more the sort of thing i had in mind. i’m not really talking about the private equity firms, albeit i do feel they have been benefiting from offshore tax arrangements and so on in a way not open to the rest of us. i say let us all in on this, or consider it a scam. however, i really don’t see the need to raise the red flags just yet. might i ask what you do for a living?

    as for the cleaners, i’m not saying the market is necessarily offering a living wage; i’m saying it’s offering considerably above the *minimum* wage. the problem is not so much low wages as it is structurally expensive cost of living – fiddling with unenforceable legislation is a less good idea than making changes that would actually be effective. you can tell me i have to pay a cleaner a “living wage”, but that doesn’t mean i can afford to pay it, personally. and there is no way a legislated “living wage” can be affordable with property prices at 10%+ AAGR.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  53. sahil — on 26th June, 2007 at 3:36 pm  

    Bananabrain you’ve already said everything which I wanted to say, BUT, BTW how many of the cleaners are really british beef? All over the UK people are not being paid the minimum wage, and for Tim Worstrell (you’d know all about complemetary slackness) the econometrics is dodgy. I’ll ask Mankiw if you want. Sonia was already talking about this point, I’d ask Sunny what about Vice???????? Many young girls from all over EU are now slaves, we need a thread on this very soon!!!!!!!!!!!!

  54. Refresh — on 26th June, 2007 at 3:54 pm  

    “might i ask what you do for a living?”

    Cleaner :)

    Come on Bananabrain, lets squeeze them til they realise they can’t get away with robbing the poor.

    Denis Healey? No not at all. More in the Benn camp.

    As for my fellow cleaners I think they are being robbed, they should all join a union.

  55. Don — on 26th June, 2007 at 4:43 pm  

    B’brain,

    Are you talking about a domestic cleaner? A ‘lady who does’? If so, I’m sure you are more than fair. But that is a different kettle of fish to the armies of contract cleaners who are often invisible to the institutions they maintain, and so the easiest to screw over when the six figure bonuses leave the budget a little thin.

    Refresh,

    Organise, brother!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KW58m7H2HK4

  56. sonia — on 26th June, 2007 at 6:11 pm  

    ah sahil yeah. i’ve mentioned modern day slavery slaves and its interesting, given that some people just don’t want to even admit the problems of slavery in the past – many people are in denial about what their own systems/ancestors or perceived ancestors’ doings in the past, so nevermind worrying about people in practically slave-like conditions now.

  57. sonia — on 26th June, 2007 at 6:11 pm  

    in any case, because Livingstone is supporting this campaign, it’s a shame to dismiss it because of the personality politics.

    ooh i do hate personality politics it is such rubbish! unless you’re a paid commentator that is :-)

  58. Don — on 26th June, 2007 at 6:22 pm  

    sonia,

    That piece – or an expanded version – deserves wider exposure. A pity that the only comments it drew were a duplicate platitude and two which disregarded the contemporary issue in favour of the more familiar vicarious victimhood based on history.

  59. Refresh — on 26th June, 2007 at 6:53 pm  

    Don, nice video.

    Workers of the world unite!Solidarity!

    Perhaps we need another word for solidarity since Blair hijacked it for the rich and powerful.

  60. Refresh — on 3rd July, 2007 at 1:56 pm  

    “Saga and AA enjoy zero tax bill”

    “Saga and the AA, the private-equity owned businesses that are merging, incurred no liability for corporation tax last year, the BBC can disclose.
    And in their two-and-a-half years of ownership by private equity, they paid almost zero corporation tax.

    In the same period, the private equity owners of these businesses – Permira, CVC and Charterhouse – generated gains for themselves of £2.5bn.

    This is about three-and-a-half times the value of their initial investment. ”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6263866.stm

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