Friday, May 15, 2009

Saving the Minimum Wage

Backbench MPs' bills, particularly those from opposition parties, rarely attract much attention. After all, they have little if any chance of passing into law.

Not so today. 11 Tory MP's had previously tabled a motion to allow employers to 'opt-out' of the National Minimum Wage (NMW). It would have effectively killed the NMW, introduced by Labour in 1999. The bill was due to have its Second Reading this afternoon. Unbelievably, they claimed it was against workers' Human Rights to have a Minimum Wage!

This was a telling piece of draft legislation - the Tories are itching to reverse many of Labour's key reforms, and look forward to a time when Britain will once again be a low wage economy. I had a look at the debate in the Commons at the time the Act creating the NMW was introduced - then, a chip shop worker for example was receiving £1.20 an hour, and a waiter was paid £12 for an 8-hour shift, and had to pass any tips back to his employer.

As John Hannett, General Secretary of USDAW, the shopworkers' union said,

"This shows the Tories in their true light and is a little insight into what a Conservative Government would do. They are still fighting the battles of the 1980s and 90s when they abolished the wages councils and left my members and millions of other workers without wage protection. David Cameron talks about an age of austerity, well we now know that he means for low-paid workers."

Remember too that one of David Cameron's few public pledges is to take Britain out of the European Social Chapter if he becomes Prime Minister. Important protection for millions of workers will be lost.

A campaign against the Tories' bill was mounted in Parliament by Labour MPs led by John Prescott. I'm pleased to say that today, Tory Christopher Chope MP deferred his bill, and effectively killed it. This is a good victory for Labour, especially as the internet and Facebook in particular were used extensively to raise awareness of the Tories' plans.

Still, if elected next year, there will be little if anything we can do to stop the Conservatives returning Britain to the dark ages of poverty pay and worsening working conditions. A battle has been won, but the war is far from over.

11 comments:

Paul Cain said...

Now you're getting utterly desperate.

You pick up on a back bench motion, which, by your own admission has no chance of passing into law, and construct an entire party political broadcast on it?

It was signed by 11 Tory MPs and never even made it to the debating chamber.

And why did it not make it to the chamber? Because the Tory frontbench slapped it down.

Give me a couple of hours and I'll research some of the barmier backbench motions supported by Labour MPs in the last 12 years, shall I?

They never made it into law, either and no-one expected them too.

At least try to keep a modicum of truth and balance in your posts, councillor. Difficult for a New Labour drone, I know, but do try.

Perhaps this is just another of your smokescreens. Only last week New Labour announced a rise in the national minimum wage. Of 7p per hour for adults; 6p per hour for 18-21 year olds and 4p per hour for 16-17 year olds.

Seven pence an hour. Jesus.

Takes me back to when New Labour increased the pension by 75p per week.

Back to the Dark Ages, indeed....

Anonymous said...

One of your Councillor mates in Hartlepool and another Hartlepool Labour Councillor were paid by the then MP for Hartlepool who is now a Lord to do some gardening and decorating work on his house in Hartlepool and the then MP now a Lord claimed for the work on his MPs expenses. Snag was the house was sold not long after the 'work' was done, but the new owner found the garden overgrown with weeds and the interior of the house was, in his words, a tip and no work appeared to have been done at all. Strange that.

Paul Cain said...

Councillor: I'd be interested to know if you have any response to this, posted on the Labour-supporting Labourhome blog:

http://www.labourhome.org/story/2009/5/18/11499/4276

I think it articulates many of the reasons why traditional Labour supporters, including in the North East, are deserting the party in droves.

You're no longer a party of labour or working class people. New Labour is run by a clique of managerial middle-class arrivistes who have about as much understanding of the concerns outlined on this Labourhome piece, as I have about naked hang-gliding.

Comments (and no smokescreens - please respond to the substantive issues raised by Labourhome)?

Darlington Councillor said...

Firstly, Paul, I think it is significant that senior Tories in the Commons wanted to raise the prospect of abolishing the National Minimum Wage.

I feel that your hatred of Labour (and me) is blinding you to what the Tories' agenda actually is. The Tory front bench only slapped down the motion's sponsors after a very effective campaign led by John Prescott and the Trade Union movement embarrassed them into action.

As for your second point - well I simply don't agree - as you may have seen from my vlogging recently, I've been working with young, enthusiastic party supporters and candidates like Bridget Phillipson in Houghton and Washington South. Labour is very far from taking the North East for granted, and is working far harder that any of the other parties in the run-up to next month's elections. And that work will continue after June 4th to the General Election and beyond.

Paul Cain said...

Councillor Wallis: I don't hate you. I don't know you.

I find your politics infuriating. I find your tribal loyalty to New Labour inexplicable and unworthy of you. Your defence of the indefensible leaves me frequently, speechless.

You give subtle hints, in many of your posts, that you know just how wrong your party is. Yet you never say so openly.

You should try it. It might cost you a rap over the knuckles from party HQ, it might end your progress up the party ladder, but you'd earn a lot of respect.

Your views make me angry, especially when I think what could, and should, have been after I voted Labour in 1997.

But hate? Sorry, but that does not apply and I invite you to reconsider your use of the term as it relates to that way I personally view you.

You're right about New Labour though. Hate is probably spot on. As an organisation, as a political philosophy and a political reality I think it belongs in the sewer.

I'm far from blind to what may (probably will) happen if the Tories are elected. Leopards rarely change their spots.

That's why the lack of a morally decent Labour Party, one which defends, first and foremost the aspirations of working people, makes my teeth itch in frustration.

Instead we have, as I said earlier, a bunch of people whose primary concern for the last 12 years has been to try to control how people think and feel.

Really, do you blame me for being totally hacked off?

Anonymous said...

The minimum wage = 2nd best thing Labour have ever done behind the NHS. thank god for Labour

Vote Labour June 4th.

Lennie

Ex-Labour said...

Nick

You say "Labour is very far from taking the North East for granted, and is working far harder that any of the other parties in the run-up to next month's elections"

Only through fear probably certainty of losing, what has happened to the Labour Party I supported and voted for year after year?

Still fiddling while the Country is in melt down.

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