BT: employing disabled people good for business


11:00 am - June 19th 2011

by Don Paskini    


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Tory MP Philip Davies called on Friday for disabled people to be paid less than the minimum wage. The Spectator backed Davies, arguing that:

“Davies is probably right to suggest that disabled people lose out to those who aren’t, wages being kept equal. He might not have the correct solution. He might have pre-empted the response better. But that doesn’t alter the fact that there’s a genuine worry here. And soothing that worry will require discussion, not knee-jerk indignation.”

According to research from Mind, more than 6 out of 10 employers would not consider hiring someone who has a mental health problem. What the Spectator and Davies are doing will reinforce these prejudices on the part of employers, and make it less likely that disabled people will get jobs.

Before spouting off, Davies should have taken the time to familiarise himself with the experience of private sector companies like British Telecom.

Since 2003 BT has provided sustainable opportunities for over 300 disabled people to work within BT through its award winning Able to Work outplacement scheme. Monitoring has shown that disabled candidates performed as effectively – if not better than – their non-disabled colleagues. BT also found that disabled employees remained with the company for longer (67% of disabled people recruited have over one year’s service).

Here’s the BT Director of Policy and People, speaking in 2009:

“The problems that disabled people face has often got little to do with their disability,”

“Many of the barriers disabled people face are external. A diverse workforce can help to access people from different backgrounds, which is a competitive advantage for the organisation.

“Disabled people face hurdles on a day-to-day basis and hence can tackle any challenges and find extraordinary solutions. They have unique perspectives and can change not just what we do but how we do things.

“Employing people with disabilities is not risky, disruptive or expensive – it is just plain business sense. A diverse workforce makes for better business. It is the difference that can make the difference.”

Other parts of the business case for employing disabled people include:

– tapping into a wider range of applicants for job vacancies (research has found that disabled employees are just as productive as their non-disabled colleagues, and have less time off sick, fewer accidents and stay in their jobs longer)

– finding workers who can fill skills gaps in tight labour markets where there aren’t enough ‘obvious’ candidates

– gaining a competitive advantage by having a diverse workforce which can attract a diverse range of customers (there are over ten million disabled people in the UK with spending potential in excess of £50 billion)

– saving money and keeping valuable experience by retaining employees who become disabled whilst working for your business (the Post Office estimates that medically retiring an employee can cost up to £80,000)

– using the experiences of disabled people to understand how your customers think and what drives their spending habits

– improving staff morale and loyalty to a business considered inclusive and representative.

– increasing your retention of staff (Poundland, for example, found that the turnover of disabled candidates recruited is 4%, compared to 48% of non-disabled recruits.)

– complying with existing and emerging legislation and avoiding unnecessary – and potentially costly – charges of discrimination (there is no upper limit on fines for discrimination on grounds of disability)

*

Advocates of cutting the minimum wage for disabled people are trying to pretend that this is a debate between the Right who are prepared to raise difficult issues, and “Left-wing hysteria”. But in fact, it is a simple case of “people who know what they are talking about” against “Philip Davies MP”.

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About the author
Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
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Reader comments


“Tory MP Philip Davies called on Friday for disabled people to be paid less than the minimum wage.”

No, he didn’t.

He said that disabled people should be allowed to work for less than minimum wage if they wished to.

Which is a very different argument indeed.

2. the a&e charge nurse

[1] Now just remind me, how many claimants have ATOL been instructed to boot off the list?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/23/government-reform-disability-benefits

Surely the likes of those with cancer (found wanting by ATOLs assessment system) should be able to find a way back into the workplace on subsistence pay?

@1 Given how routine insisting that a prospective employee must sign an opt out of the European working time directive is, I think you’ll find that in practice it isn’t.

4. Julian St Jude

If BT are able to employ disabled people for £1.50 per hour or less, it will also be good for their proffitability. If the disabled are “free” (ie forced) to work for less then the minimum wage, that will happen to the rapturous applause of the Institute of Directors and the CBI.

Mr Davis might not have actually used the word “forced”, but one only has to look at other things the Tories have said and are doing to see quite clearly that he meant that disabled people should be forced to work for less than the minimum wage.

Yes, there are a few on benefits who are abusing the system, which is quite unacceptable, but the politicians are using this to justify abuse of the many by the system.

@3

“Given how routine insisting that a prospective employee must sign an opt out of the European working time directive is, I think you’ll find that in practice it isn’t.”

This, in spades. When I got a job in a factory a few years ago it was par the course to sign the WTD opt-out or you wouldn’t get the job. If this attack on the NMW had gone through no doubt it would have been an identical story – “You don’t want to work for less than £5.93 an hour? No job for you, then – this fellow over here said he’ll work for £4, we’ll employ him instead.”

As I’ll said before this is the first shot in the war again the NMW, the Tories will be back & we need to be on our guard as they perpetuate class warfare against the poorest workers in the country.

“What the Spectator and Davies are doing will reinforce these prejudices on the part of employers, and make it less likely that disabled people will get jobs.”

How?

7. blackwillow1

Philip Davies is clearly a fascist, the type of tory we all know and despise. The type we know say this kind of thing, in order to assert their position within the hard right ranks of the party. They do’nt actually care if the public turn on them, the opinions of the hard right being of greater importance than the opinions of the common horde. He’s a non-entity, trying to raise his profile, hoping the power brokers in the party will notice him as ‘one of their own’. It suggests that the hard right are feeling comfortable at the moment, not shy about making statements that are certain to inflame public anger, because they know that the leadership are happy to have them say these things. It makes it easier for Cameron and Co. to distinguish themselves from the ‘nasty’ element, proclaiming themselves to be the ‘nice’ element and nothing like those others who say horrible things and upset people. Do’nt fall for it, they are equally contemptuous of any person they consider to be ‘not of their kind’. It’s a scam, designed to paint the coalition in a good light, a smokescreen for their real intentions, ultimately, the degradation of society, making the divisions as wide as possible. Expect to hear more of this kind of thing, they wo’nt stop until they force a rift between those who care about the disadvantaged, and those who could’nt care less. The rift already exists, the coalition want to make it more defined so that people, both employers and employees feel that, in order to survive, they must choose a side. It goes further than the issue of disabled workers, they are trying to force the rift at every level of society, employed versus unemployed, public sector versus private, wealthy versus poor. The squeezed middle, as they’ve become known, not wealthy but not destitue, they are the real target in all this because they make up the majority of the all important ‘SWING VOTE’. Force them into a position where they have to choose, keeping your head above water under the coalition, or sinking fast because you chose to care, you chose not to abandon the less fortunate. I choose to care, in doing so, I have no choice but to fight and defend both myself and those unable to fight. Lying, conniving, spineless, pathetic bullies are no different wether you find them in the schoolyard or the corridors of power. Bullies retain their power through fear and division, therefore, we must be strong and united in order to be rid of them. General election 2012!

8. Tom Comerford

All employers have an equal opportunities policy, which includes equal pay.
I worked for 23 years in the sign making/engraving industry and had to challenge for better pay and conditions, but as a disabled person from birth, was regarded in the workplace as a person to challenge for all.

Bosses want to use disabled people, that are more dedicated to employment than realised.

Profits are what they want and they fear disabled people as active employees.

9. Tom Comerford

There also requires a committment from all politicians to come and join disabled people in struggle by the attacks for our basic needs for survival

@6

Because they have produced no evidence that a disabled jobseeker will be a less productive or worse employee than anyone else. They are relying on and propagating the notion that the average disabled person is less able to perform job tasks, keep good time and be reliable. If we’re talking about averages then it has a grain of truth, but this says nothing about actual jobseeking disabled people who are self-selecting on the basis that they are aware of what they can and can’t do.

But drawing attention to the variable productivity between different kinds and severity of impairments is inconvenient to the Spectator and Mr Davies’ message; so they leave it out and are happy to continue spoiling things for the disabled as long it helps them get their way.

Agreed with this article. I can testify from my sources that BT are indeed a very good company for hiring people with disabilities, and they make a fair point. Having a diverse workforce is an extremely good thing for any organisation.

That said, Davies didn’t say the disabled should work for less than minimum wage – he said they should be allowed the option to do so. I have some sympathy for his viewpoint, but it didn’t stop me from going off on one about it on the blog on Friday…

12. So Much For Subtlety

Since 2003 BT has provided sustainable opportunities for over 300 disabled people to work within BT through its award winning Able to Work outplacement scheme. Monitoring has shown that disabled candidates performed as effectively – if not better than – their non-disabled colleagues. BT also found that disabled employees remained with the company for longer (67% of disabled people recruited have over one year’s service).

So …. you’re basing this on something BT’s PR people told you based, in turn on their experience with just 300 employees – out of a total British disabled population of measured in the millions? The tens of millions if you believe the one in four of us have mental health problems.

This is cherry picking. People with disabilities range enormously from people with profound mental disabilities, to people with locked in syndrome to people with dyslexia. The fact that BT has found a mere 300 who do not have serious problems does not mean that the other ten million or so don’t as well. You just can not extrapolate from such a small sample size – and their “research”, it did involve more people than these 300 from BT, right?

Even so you can see even from their work that there is a problem with disabled people in Britain:

increasing your retention of staff (Poundland, for example, found that the turnover of disabled candidates recruited is 4%, compared to 48% of non-disabled recruits.)

This means that Poundland is such a good employer the disabled do not want to leave it. Or as that is somewhat unlikely given their turn over for people without disabilities, the chances of them getting a better job are small. If you actually achieved what you wanted and more disabled people were employed, this figure would rise (as it should).

The man made a perfectly reasonable point. Objecting to the real world does not make it go away. Nor does calling him names solve anything. We all want more disabled people in work. Employers are not stupid or evil.

13. So Much For Subtlety

10. Mason Dixon, Autistic

Because they have produced no evidence that a disabled jobseeker will be a less productive or worse employee than anyone else. They are relying on and propagating the notion that the average disabled person is less able to perform job tasks, keep good time and be reliable. If we’re talking about averages then it has a grain of truth, but this says nothing about actual jobseeking disabled people who are self-selecting on the basis that they are aware of what they can and can’t do.

So just to recap – on average they are right. We are agreeing that on average employers know that disabled people will be less able to perform and on average they are right?

It is true that they will know nothing about the job seeker in front of them looking for a job right now. Well not quite nothing, but not much. So I have a simple question – what can they ask? Can they ask if their disabilities means they will take lots of time off work? Can they ask if their disabilities mean they will be disruptive in the work place? Can they ask if their disabilities mean they need special support?

Can we also agree that Anti-Discrimination law means that no, they cannot? Thus they are faced with an employee who may impose major costs on them. Who they will not be able to fire if they do for those same legal reasons. They do not know. Large corporations tend to be risk adverse. Do you think they are going to take the risk? You think they should?

Ironically, it is probably things like BT’s programme which discriminates in favour of the disabled which will allow BT to screen employees beforehand. They can ask if they ask them all and if it is specific to the programme.

But drawing attention to the variable productivity between different kinds and severity of impairments is inconvenient to the Spectator and Mr Davies’ message; so they leave it out and are happy to continue spoiling things for the disabled as long it helps them get their way.

It is also irrelevant. He made an off the cuff remark. About which he was right. The Usual Suspects are jumping all over him.

11. The Grim Reaper

Agreed with this article. I can testify from my sources that BT are indeed a very good company for hiring people with disabilities, and they make a fair point. Having a diverse workforce is an extremely good thing for any organisation.

Second time someone has claimed this. How is it good for any organisation? You think the mentally ill will buy more expensive phone services if they can do so from a company that makes an effort?

14. Mr S. Pill

What’s your point SMFS? Or just spouting a lot of hot air with no practical suggestions, again?

Mr s Pill @

Regarding SMFS

No platform for Nazi Party ideology.

16. Bimothey Twest

Stop teasing the Nazi. His self loathing is written all over his hatred for the disabled.

@13

“So just to recap – on average they are right”

And your ‘recap’ falls apart right there. ‘A grain of truth’ is a metaphor for something not being entirely untrue. No validity is implied, let alone absolute factual correctness. As your entire post is based on things I haven’t said, there’s nothing in there I can discuss with you.

Except that you automatically assume a lot of bad faith on the part of any disabled applicant. I’ve quickly learned from you that disabled people just can’t win no matter what. It doesn’t matter that disabled jobseekers are self-selecting and will not apply for something they are not confident they can do as good as anyone else (unless you believe the Dudley Moore and Peter Cook ‘One Leg Too Few’ sketch was a documentary), you find a way to side-step it. It doesn’t matter that it is in their own interests to know if an employer is capable of making reasonable adjustments, the only way there can be a perception of risk is in light of terrible prejudice. You advertise loudly that you share it.

Are you even taking the topic seriously?

Re BT: they’ve been doing this sort of thing for a long long time. Back in the 80s when I was flogging computer kit around the country I ended up in several conversations with the bloke who ran a part of their scheme. A quadriplegic himself and using as much up to date kit (like Dragon 0.1 etc) to enable him to do the job.

As to the disabled having different abilities: umm, isn’t this what we mean by the word in the first place?

And yes, we should discriminate. We don’t hire the deaf as piano tuners yet we’ve been specifically training the blind to do that job for near a century.

http://www.piano-tuners.org/

We don’t however hire said blind people to be bus drivers, nor the Autistic to be Butlins Red Coats.

A sensible policy on disability would be that we consider whether the disability makes it more difficult (or in the case of piano tuners, the blind often having enhanced hearing) or easier to perform certain jobs. Having one leg makes no difference at all to the ability to work in a call centre. Being deaf would.

So discrimination should not only be allowable it’s simple and obvious common sense.

@18 I think most of what you’re saying would be covered by self-selecting as Mason Dixon claims anyway, unless there’s a belligerent bloc of blind would-be bus drivers campaigning for greater consideration that I’m unaware of.

20. So Much For Subtlety

14. Mr S. Pill

What’s your point SMFS? Or just spouting a lot of hot air with no practical suggestions, again?

Actually this is an issue where I have made a suggestion – stop interfering and let everyone get on with it. If people, all people but especially the disabled, are offered work at a wage that is below to some acceptable minimum standard, then the government ought to top up their wages to that level.

17. Mason Dixon, Autistic

And your ‘recap’ falls apart right there. ‘A grain of truth’ is a metaphor for something not being entirely untrue. No validity is implied, let alone absolute factual correctness.

It is not entirely untrue, but it is not true? I don’t think the lack of good faith here is my doing. What exactly do you mean by that? It is not untrue and yet it is not valid? Do tell. And of course I was not arguing for any absolute factual correctness.

But still, if you do not think it is true that on average the disabled are less productive, is it correct to say that you think it is true that the disabled are as productive as the able bodied? So there is no reason why, say, those with Down’s syndrome should not be brain surgeons?

Except that you automatically assume a lot of bad faith on the part of any disabled applicant.

No I don’t. The system forces a lot of people to behave in bad faith but I have no where said the disabled do.

I’ve quickly learned from you that disabled people just can’t win no matter what.

Actually I think the only thing you’ve learnt is to change the subject with a personal attack every time you argue yourself into a corner.

It doesn’t matter that disabled jobseekers are self-selecting and will not apply for something they are not confident they can do as good as anyone else

Sorry but isn’t that a little bit of a gross generalisation? How do you know what every single disabled person is or is not likely to do? What is more I think the evidence would tend to suggest that is not entirely true.

It doesn’t matter that it is in their own interests to know if an employer is capable of making reasonable adjustments

Because it isn’t. The employer has a legal obligation that is a little hard to avoid.

19. Cylux

I think most of what you’re saying would be covered by self-selecting as Mason Dixon claims anyway, unless there’s a belligerent bloc of blind would-be bus drivers campaigning for greater consideration that I’m unaware of.

I know someone who is legally blind but is appealing a decision to refuse to let her drive a truck. Is that close enough? There are belligerent people out there. Why would the disabled community be unique?

@20 Do you, though? Do you really?

Context is everything, though, isn’t it? This little outburst comes after the sustained attack on disabled and chronically ill people through removal of benefits and the use of ATOS to undermine medical opinion. How can there be anything but desperation for a disabled jobseeker? The power is in the hands of the employer, so removal of the one remaining right, minimum pay standards, has to be attacked.

The smug self-satisfaction of the righties on this thread suggests they feel that bad stuff will never happen to them. They lack decency, humanity, compassion, even imagination. However, witness pagar’s whinings about the banks and see how they complain once they actually find themselves the victim for a change.

I’d like to know why righties think doctors cannot diagnose what disabled people can and cannot do after decades of training and experience, yet should be given the job of managing NHS procurement with next to no training. You’d have to be pretty ideologically blinkered not to see something wrong.

23. the a&e charge nurse

[18] “A sensible policy on disability would be that we consider whether the disability makes it more difficult (or in the case of piano tuners, the blind often having enhanced hearing) or easier to perform certain jobs” – yes, something recently explored by Jon Ronson (How to spot a psychopath).

Ronson cites Robert Hare (the eminent Canadian psychologist who invented the psychopath checklist) who claims, “you’re 4 times more likely to find a psychopath at the top of the corporate ladder than you are walking around in the janitor’s office”.
http://www.npr.org/2011/05/21/136462824/a-psychopath-walks-into-a-room-can-you-tell

Hare says, “Serial killers ruin families – corporate and political and religious psychopaths ruin economies. They ruin societies.”
http://ponerology.blogspot.com/2011/05/review-jon-ronsons-psychopath-test.html

So markets are substantially driven by a significant cohort suffering from an incurable affliction – perhaps it presents the ultimate opportunity to reframe the way we think about disability?

Blackwillow @ 7

Philip Davies is clearly a fascist, the type of tory we all know and despise. The type we know say this kind of thing, in order to assert their position within the hard right ranks of the party.

I agree with you, but the real problem is not so much that Davis and other vermin exist, nor is it that they express these repellent views. The real problem that these views go virtually unchallenged. This is not the fault of the Right; I entirely blame the Left for this. Davis’s outburst is nothing more than a symptom of a far deeper malaise in society.

Nazi ideology hasn’t ‘gone away, it has merely been suppressed. This vile attack on the disabled, (both as an end of in its self, or merely as a battering ram to be used against the minimum wage) has not just suddenly came out of the blue, this has been simmering away for ten years or so. The slow but steady chipping away via the Daily Hate and the other despicable arms of the media has softened up the public for this type of thing.

We are now in the position where this worthless cunt can come out with a face on attack and it goes unchallenged! A storm in a teacup, a minor splash and move onto the next story.

This should have been at the top of the news agenda for a week. The Labour Party and the Left in general should have stapled this to the forehead of every Tory speaker over the weekend. An insignificant little squirt like Davis? Yes, well, perhaps but he got away unscathed and I have not heard of any of the Tory front bench condemn him either. I am always told that ‘decent Tories’ exist, yet I cannot find a single one to condemn this statement. The prime minister had a disabled son, but yet he still has failed to comment in a significant way.

As for the Left? Well rather predictably the response is rather muted. I have read a couple of articles here and a couple of decent points, but really? Do we need to explain why this statement is so offensive? When we are attempting to explain to Nazis why we find this stuff offensive, we can give up because we are re-fighting the battles of thirty years. Apparently, FIFA banning the Hajib is the real battleground for fighting prejudice.

@24 Jim

That’s the problem, isn’t it? EDL etc go on about muslims so that’s where the fight is. How our political representatives keep allowing the agenda to be set by the reactionaries is the question. Do they really believe in anything?

“Do we need to explain why this statement is so offensive?”

Yes, you do.

“People whose ability is limited get less money than those not so limited in their ability” is hardly an unusual observation about the world is it?

@24 To be fair, neo-liberal capitalism is more than adequate enough to produce the rancid results that you discuss without actual Nazism. And it bears repeating, you don’t need fascism or nazism to be implemented before ‘first they came’ starts being very important. Authoritarian populism on the behalf of the Bourgeoisie, while maintaining the apparatus of democracy, can quite easily lead to, well, open calls with possible moves toward legislation that the disabled are ‘worth less’ to society than the abled.

28. the a&e charge nurse

[26] “People whose ability is limited get less money than those not so limited in their ability” is hardly an unusual observation about the world is it” – ahh, so all those working for pittance, here and in many other countries, do so because of they have less “ability”?

And there was silly old me thinking it had more to do with accumulation of cultural and social advantages?

Thank you for this post Don and LC.

Tim W @ 26

Yes, you do

You seriously cannot find anything wrong using the mentality disabled as a battering against the minimum wage? Nothing wrong with suggesting that people with Downs syndrome be ‘allowed’ (i.e. forced) to opt out of the safety net that society (rightly or wrongly) has put up? You can see nothing wrong with say, having three men collecting trolleys all day with two getting the legal minimum wage and one ‘opting out’, simply because he disabled in some way? You don’t see anything wrong with that? You genuinely cannot see why some of us would find that completely repugnant?

You despise the minimum wage and that is fair enough, as far as it goes, but use the weakest members of society to undermine it is a pretty horrendous tactic, even for the most committed of neo-cons.

You don’t think that killing the minimum wage via the disabled is likely to cause deep resentment and mistrust among the general population? You cannot see how people being undercut even at the level that society deems unacceptable would turn people against each other, is there simply no room for humanity in your Brave New World?

jim @30 –

“You can see nothing wrong with say, having three men collecting trolleys all day with two getting the legal minimum wage and one ‘opting out’, simply because he disabled in some way?”

The logic is sound, just so long as you believe they *chose* to be disabled.

Cylux @ 27

If it walks like a ducks, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck it is a duck.

When we have people openly talking about an attack on the disabled and openly suggesting that we should actively pass laws to allow the World’s richest people to exploit the disabled and treat them as second class citizens, then there is a perfectly good word for that. There is no reason to use a euphemism when the accepted term is open for everyone.

Not everything is Fascism. Traffic Wardens are not Nazis, nor are speed cameras, drink driving laws or fox hunting bans. People who leave empty coke cans on buses are not Nazis either and nor are FIFA.

Kicking the lungs out of the disabled, simply because they cannot understand any better? Yes, that is Nazi ideology.

Not a dig at you, BTW, but he ‘Left’ are very adept at seeing fascism everywhere, but when we see a prime example in front of our very faces, instead of being a red rag to a bull, we shy away from pointing it out.

@ 23 A+E Charge Nurse

So….you seem to be willing to discriminate against (functioning) pyscopaths because they are seemingly associated with success in the corporate, capitalist world you detest, but at the same time decry any accusation of other disabilities being less able to perform other jobs.

Is hypocrisy now considered a disease?

@ 30 Jim

Who said anything about allowing them to opt out of the social safety net?

This was about allowing the disabled to opt out of a minimum wage (which does limit employment for both the able bodied and the disabled) to allow them to get into the workplace easier, and live a life where they contribute more as I’m sure most want to. Being realistic, when hiring at or near the minumum wage, I’m sure most employers will readily choose an able-bodied person for the same money.

This doesn’t mean that disablede workers have to lose their benefits etc, just gives them an advantage which they wouldn’t otherwise have to get into the workforce in the first place.

But of course, with all these shouts of Nazi and fascist from the supposedly well meaning left, any sense has been thoroughly removed from the discussion. In reality, these same well meaning people are making it harder for disabled people to compete with the able bodied for jobs, and to a certain extent consigning many to the economic scrapheap.

Cherub @ 25

Davis would never have gotten away with this had he used ‘race’ as a debar from the minimum wage. The logic is every bit a sound. Asian people are more likely to be unemployed because they are seen less desirable in the Workplace, so we could pay them less to make tem more attractive to employers?

We could have a sliding scale of the minimum wage, depending on race? Jews and Chinese, say at the top, white Europeans mid table, but Banglideshi women at the bottom at two quid an hour?
Trolley collector required:
Wage rate:
Jew £7
White £6.50
Black £5.50
Muslim male £4.00
Muslim female £2.00

Doesn’t fly, does it?

No, he chose his target well, no-one speaks up for the disabled as they are a fucking nuisance.

“Nothing wrong with suggesting that people with Downs syndrome be ‘allowed’ (i.e. forced) to opt out of the safety net that society (rightly or wrongly) has put up? You can see nothing wrong with say, having three men collecting trolleys all day with two getting the legal minimum wage and one ‘opting out’, simply because he disabled in some way? You don’t see anything wrong with that? You genuinely cannot see why some of us would find that completely repugnant?”

The example of a Down’s Syndrome lad collecting trolleys was exactly the one I used in my own blog post on this subject. As a supermarket I know had exactly such a lad working at it.

Imagine, just for a moment, that the labour of that lad was worth £3 to the supermarket per hour. No, go on, just imagine it. Imagine similarly that the labour of the other two was/is worth £7 and hour. Perhaps some difference in the amount of trolleys rounded up per hour maybe.

(And, yes, please note, this is an example only, trying to explain the underlying argument. I know this isn’t a direct description of all of the wrinkles of the entire world).

OK, when the minimum wage is £6 and hour those two are going to get a job and the Downs lad isn’t. His labour isn’t worth the cost of it therefore that job, for him, just doesn’t exist.

But perhaps working for £3 an hour is the best that’s possibly available for him? Add in anything you’d like here, the joy of working (yes, unemployment does make people unhappy), a sense of achievement perhaps, out and about in hte community and so on. As I say, add in anything you want here really.

Now, here’s the final bit. I did not say that he should get £3 an hour and then starve on it. What I actually said is that the way we should deal with low value labour is deal with it as a society. If we, as a society, think that £3 an hour is an immoral amount of money then we should put our hands directly into our pockets and top up that wage. Call it anything you want: citizens basic income, tax credits, disability allowance, whatever.

And this should be true of all.

Finally, what actually is the minimum wage in the UK? I think it’s around £1.70 an hour. You get £65 a week for 37.5 hours a week of unemployment don’t you?

Why is someone better off on £1.70 an hour rather than £3 an hour?

@35 Er, you do know you’re applying JSA numbers to those able to claim disability benefits there, don’t you?

Tyler @ 30

Who said anything about allowing them to opt out of the social safety net?

This is your next sentence.

This was about allowing the disabled to opt out of a minimum wage

The minimum wage is the safety net that we apply to the labour market. You may find the minimum wage repugnant, but there it is. Society has declared that the minimum wage exists and therefor forcing the disabled to live below minimum wage is treating the disabled as second class citizens.

I’m sure most employers will readily choose an able-bodied person for the same money.

How so? Last week we were talking about how the disabled were being badly treated by ATOS and the line from the Tory Vermin was that people who were found able to work should work. Now we are told that even if they are capable of work, no employer would employ them?

Fucking funny that, eh? When it is about benefits last week these people are able to work, but when it is about employment, then these people are now unemployable?

MAKE YOUR FUCKING MINDS UP. Either they are fit for the labour market or they are not. Choose one.

But of course, with all these shouts of Nazi and fascist from the supposedly well meaning left, any sense has been thoroughly removed from the discussion.

There was never any sense to this discussion. Davis was dog whistling to his mates in the Nasty Party, who have polished up the iron crosses and goosestepped in unison in rather predictable fashion.

“Society has declared that the minimum wage exists”

I guess you can say that, yes. I would rather say that the last Labour government decided to pass a law stating that the minimum wage exists rather than “society”.

Quite aprat from the fact that the government and society are not the same thing, if you can say that “society created the minimum wage” then I can equally logically state that “society created competition in the NHS” or “society creates any damn fool law passed by the ConDems.”

Which isn’t, quite, what I think you mean.

“forcing the disabled to live below minimum wage”

Who is doing that?

We’re all saying that thre would still be tops ups, still be benefits. Only that if they can’t find a job at £6 an hour they should be allowed to work for £3 an hour.

Telling, isn’t it, how after years of attacks on benefits the righties are now holding up the paltry amount given as JSA as some kind of minimum wage. This clearly shows how they work: Attack the soft targets, then use them as an example of best practice.

The twisting of language so that people are empowered by having protection removed is breathtaking.

We’ve seen attacks on pensions. Coming soon: pension rights made more fair by benchmarking against NEST once private equity has leached the fund dry and bankrupted it.

Tim @ 35

Tim, to be honest, I haven’t read your blogg and I was using a real life example from my own life. ASDA, Falkirk had a young chap collecting Trolleys.

Okay, let us suggest that his productivity is less than that of the other boys. Let us suggest that he cannot keep up his workmates. His actual labour is now worth say three quid and hour.

Of course his actual labour is worth far, far more than that because ASDA are making huge profits and trolleys are an integral part of their business model. ASDA cannot afford to lose the trolleys or pay the huge premiums to ensure against damage to cars and loss of utility to the store that uncollected trolleys would cause. Paying someone six an hour is cheaper than buying new trolleys every day. That sixty quid a day (or whatever) is a mere fraction of the cost of replacing those trolleys.

Anyway the Store manager is now paying three quid an hour to get a job half done. However, he still needs the job done, so why pay someone who is not capable of doing the job? Even if you are paying half the cost of the job, the job is not being done. Therefore the job ‘must’ be getting done to an acceptable standard or else there is no use in paying for the job not is done effectively. So, if I was to corner the Store manager and ask him if his trolleys were being collected to an effective standard, I think it would be reasonable to assume that they were, because the store does not collect the trolleys as a favour, they have sound business models for that.

Therefore the chap is supplying labour at a serviceable standard and the going rate for the job is at least the minimum wage and therefore, I conclude that his labour IS worth the minimum wage, as sanctioned by the government, or else he would not be doing the job.

However, let us look at the other end of the scale. Let us imagine that he IS able to keep up with his mates and he supplying labour effectively. Let us suppose that he does collect the (say thirty trolleys an hour) standard amount. Isn’t there a chance that the employer would use the chap’s disability to unfairly push his wages below the minimum wage? Let us suppose he was threatened with the sack unless he signed the release form? Then what? We should allow that massive company bludgeon that little guy, just because he is genetically ‘impure’?

41. the a&e charge nurse

[33] “So….you seem to be willing to discriminate against (functioning) pyscopaths because they are seemingly associated with success in the corporate, capitalist world you detest, but at the same time decry any accusation of other disabilities being less able to perform other jobs. Is hypocrisy now considered a disease?” – that wasn’t my point at all.

First of all I highlighted what might be considered a “hidden” disability (personality disorder) then went onto to say that it might enable a reframing of negative perceptions?

I do not advocate discriminating against anybody, nor would I encourage specious bullshit about vulnerable people being offered the ‘choice’ to work for next to no pay – if I remember correctly we have had similar arguments about how it might be beneficial for children (from some of the world’s poorest countries) to be given the “choice” of labour at subsistence rates?

@ 37 Jim

Well done – you’ve jwon the prize for not reading a f**king word I wrote. That or the prize for simply not understanding it.

The minimum wage IS NOT a social safety net. DLA/Benefits etc are the social safety net.

The minimum wage is a construction that forces an employers decision between staff numbers and pay in the direction of less staff. It doesn’t help employment.

Clearly in your little world disabled people will have equal chances of finding low paid employment as any able bodied person. In the real world however, especially for low paid/low skilled jobs, an employer will tend to chose the able bodied person for the same cost, given disabled people are more likely to be less productive, need more time off and thanks to Labour’s equality/discrimination legislation be a possible legal minefield with all the associated expenses.

If you however tip the balance in favour of the disabled person to a certain extent it should be easier for them to get jobs, which is surely what you lefties want, right? They difference between what they earn and the minimum wage could be a top-up paid for by tax-credits etc…..but this is not about using them as “slave labour” or reducing their standard of living. Quite the opposite – it’s about improving peoples chances and returning them to the workforce.

Not everyone is fit for all jobs, but most people can do something. It’s not a black/white thing as you seem to think.

That all said though – I’m sure you are going to ignore everything i’ve said above and decide i’ve said something else. There simply is no logic or reasoning with people like you is there?

It’s not the Tory party who are dog-whistling – it’s horrible little self-righteous socialists like yourself.

Tim @ 38

The Labour Government and society amount to the same thing in this context. Same as your examples regarding the NHS.

What you are saying that we should allow companies to drive people into poverty because of a disability and then we pick up the pieces? Why should we subsidise ASDA? They make millions of quid a year and more than a few quid from that disabled guy working away. If he cannot effectively supply labour then we should remove him from the labour market.

However if ATOS have declared him fit for work, then he should be allowed to sell his labour on the open market according to the Law of the land.

“Of course his actual labour is worth far, far more than that because ASDA are making huge profits and trolleys are an integral part of their business model.”

But having people collecting the trolleys need not be an inttegral part of anyone’s business model. For example, you could demand a deposit for the trolley. 50 p or something. Then when you park it back in the right place you get your 50 p back.

Actually, this is how every supermarket in Portugal does it.

You might as well say that tills are vital to a supermarket. Which they are. But the people to run the tills aren’t. That job can be automated: see every self service checkout springing up across the land.

It really is true that jobs where people have to be paid more than the value of their production are jobs that disappear.

“Anyway the Store manager is now paying three quid an hour to get a job half done.”

Quite, which is what happens with low productivity labour. If you are allowed to pay them what their labour is worth then you’ll end up employing two of them, won’t you?

Which brings us right back to Davies original point. If some disabled people have a productivity level below that which justifies the minimum wage then perhaps they should be allowed to work for less than the minimum wage?

“then he should be allowed to sell his labour on the open market ”

That’s what I’m arguing too. That the law of the land should allow him to do exactly that.

@41 A+E

Except we are not talking about people working at next to no pay, we are talking about letting them work for less, so they can get into the labour market, whilst still keeping them financially on a footing they were already on whilst on benefits.

To be honest, I’m sure quite a few able bodied people would rather accept less than the minimum wage to get back into the jobs market, especially if it didn’t affect their tax credits/benefits etc and made them better off.

Davies might have phrased it very poorly, but this is about getting people into work, and lower costs for an employer ARE an incentive. Higher ones clearly are not.

Tyler,

You seem to be conflating disability with unfitness to work. You imply people too sick to work should have NMW protection removed after ATOS have overturned the diagnosis of professional medics in order to achieve some capitalist nirvana of your wettest dreams.

It is wicked, vile and twisted.

“The Labour Government and society amount to the same thing in this context”

I’ve never read anything quite so funny, yet so sad.

Labour were in power for 13 years, spent huge amounts of money and yet poverty and unemployement barely changed. Instead a welfare culture with roughly a third of the population recieving something from the government gets entrenched.

Labour isn’t for the people, or for society. If these people became rich, they’d ask why Labour is taking so much of their hard earned cash and spending it on their client state, and stop voting Labour….thus perpetuating Labour’s need for a massive clientelle relying on the state and labour for their livelihoods.

In the news, NATO empowers civilians to become chunks of burnt meat thanks to, “Weapons system failure.”

OOh! Ooh! What else shall we empower now?

Tyler @ 43

I have read exactly what you wrote and a pretty nasty little person it paints you out. Whether you like it or not, the NMW is a safety net. Prending otherwise does not make it go away.

You know what? You are right. Some people are just not fit for the Labour market and no amount testing on behalf of strutting little Nazis like yourself and Davis will change that.

No matter what language you use, you cannot polish up a turd and attempting to imply that this about empowering the disabled or other nonsense, this is about driving the weakest members of our society into the grabbing hands of the richest people on the planet.

@ 47 Cherub

Another lefty who can’t read, right?

I never said anything of the sort. I said people should be able to opt out of the minimum wage to give them a better chance to get into work, in conjuntion with still recieving their benefits….leaving them no worse off, but with a foot on the job market ladder.

I don’t even think that should be limited to disabled people.

The NMW is not “protection” for many people – it’s a huge barrier thrown up by the last Labour government for many to get into work, and we all pay for that.

The only thing i think is wicked vile and twisted are people like yourself who seem to think that it’s better that people are forced or even incentivised to live on benefits, wasteful of their own lives and taxpayers money, than contributing to society through work – even if low paid.

@ Jim

You really are a bit of a moron aren’t you.

Social security system = safety net.

NMW = barrier to employment.

If NMW goes up, as you little trots are always shouting about, companies have to pay their staff more, so they cut jobs to compensate.

You make a few workers richer at the cost of jobs for some others. Those who have lost their jobs then get less money on the dole, which other taxpayers have to fund.

This is what happens in reality, not in your socialist state funded dreamworld.

Tim @ 45

Ah, but you did a sneaky snake there, didn’t you? You missed out the bit about selling his labour according to the laws of the land. The law of the land includes the NMW

Further points:

You pay a deposit here too, but the trolleys still need collected from carpark to entrance, plus there are still some strays lying about. Easier to pay people to colect them than having a huge claim if one bashes a car?

Paying them what they are worth? They are worth minimum wage because that is the Law of the land. If they cannot supply labour to an acceptable level they are unemployable and we can deal with that in a humane fashion.

Ah, but you did a sneaky snake there, didn’t you? You missed out the bit about selling his labour according to the laws of the land. The law of the land includes the NMW

What Tim W is advocating is a change in the law of the land.

55. Mr S. Pill

If a company doesn’t or won’t pay the NMW to everyone regardless of disability they don’t deserve to be in business at all. End of story, basically.

@ 53 Jim

“If they cannot supply labour to an acceptable level they are unemployable and we can deal with that in a humane fashion.”

What, by leaving them to rot on benefits? Doesn’t sound humane to me.

Of course, you make one huge mistake in your argument;

An able bodied person’s acceptable level might be greater than a disabled person. If we have the NMW, then employers will not employee someone unless their productivity is greater than the cost of that NMW. If we remove that barrier then the less productive will have a chance of being employed.

For example;

If a disabled person can clear 30 trolleys an hour, but an abled bodied person 60, and the net gain to ASDA of that service is 6/ph, but the NMW is also 6/ph, then ASDA can *only* hire the able bodied worker. If there was no minimum wage, it would make no difference to them financially if they hired two disabled workers instead.

57. Mr S. Pill

@52

Interesting, levelling-down (as you appear to be arguing for) is something that lefties normally get accused of… needless to say your argument is upside down. If companies can’t afford the NMW then (as mentioned) they shouldn’t be in business at all; if people are suffering on benefits because there aren’t enough jobs to go round then increase benefits. It’s really not that hard, when you think about it.

I think we’ve amply demonstrated that the NMW has become sufficiently totemic for the left that rational discussion about it is impossible.

If companies can’t afford the NMW then (as mentioned) they shouldn’t be in business at all; if people are suffering on benefits because there aren’t enough jobs to go round then increase benefits. It’s really not that hard, when you think about it.

You have been watching a party political broadcast from the Panhellenic Socialist Movement.

I think we’ve amply demonstrated that the NMW has become sufficiently totemic for the right that a humane discussion about it is impossible.

Tyler @ 52

Losing the plot are we? No one is impressed with your little tantrum.

Care to speculate on why employment has risen since the introduction of the NMW? The labour market is larger now than ever in our history.

@ Mr S Pill

Your logic is perfect in the land of the magic money tree, but back in the real worl it falls apart a bit.

If the NMW goes up, yet a company’s profits/productivity doesn’t, they will fire staff. A company *won’t* be in business if it always loses money.

There are not limitless funds to increase benefits if you feel they are too low. That money comes from taxpayers incomes.

I would prefer to have more people working, even if it was for less. I would also make sure it was better to work via the tax system, so people don’t find living on benefits better than working. Remember also that you might start low paid but the experience and time leads you up the jobs ladder till you earn more…for most people its not totally static.

63. the a&e charge nurse

[59] I’m going out on a limb here, but I suspect your hourly rate is slightly higher than the NMW?

In other words this is just another installment in ‘why can’t poor people manage on less’?

Tim J @ 52

Well, what he and Davis is that some people should be forced to exempt themself from the law of the land.

@ 61 Jim

It’s called population growth.

But of course you are wrong here again. *Nominal* employment is higher because there are more people in work because simply, there are more people.

The unemployment rate (%) has been much lower – and that’s the number people actually measure.

Tyler

I can read. Between the lines too.

Isn’t it time you or one of your chums tells the one about slaves being better off than some free people? That’s always good for a laugh.

@ 66 Cherub

So its better to have people dependent on the largesse of the state rather than working for and bettering themselves?

If the NMW keeps increasing faster than benefits it will prove a bigger and bigger hurdle for the unemployed to get over and into work.

Yet you think that this is a *good* thing???

59] I’m going out on a limb here, but I suspect your hourly rate is slightly higher than the NMW?

In other words this is just another installment in ‘why can’t poor people manage on less’?

The idea that Tim Worstall is exploring is (as I understand it) whether it’s better for people who would not otherwise be employed at all to have a job paying below minimum wage, and have benefits/working credits extended by the state to bring their effective income up to NMW level, or whether it’s better for them not to work at all, and be exclusively dependent for their income on state benefits.

That strikes me as not being an especially straightforward question, and certainly not one that merits the accusations of fascism and inhumanity that it met.

Well, what he and Davis is that some people should be forced to exempt themself from the law of the land.

To *change* the law to *allow* exemptions. You’re failing to address the arguments they are making because you’re so keen to fight the argument that you wish they were making.

“The idea that Tim Worstall is exploring is (as I understand it) whether it’s better for people who would not otherwise be employed at all to have a job paying below minimum wage, and have benefits/working credits extended by the state to bring their effective income up to NMW level”

And were this idea to be implemented, how long (in minutes) would it take Tims W & J to start pissing and moaning about how the disabled are crowding out the job market thanks to this utterly unfair socialiststalinistfascistic subsidy which Must Be Stopped?

@68 The main problem is that your plan is two-stage, you need to campaign to get the framework of tax-credits in place long before you scrap the nmw. I can quite easily see the nmw going and tax credits then being sacrificed on the alter of austerity too.

70 – It’s not my plan, and I suspect that setting up a benefits system that allows that sort of flexibility would indeed be non-trivial. So on terms of practicality I agree that Tim W’s idea is unlikely to work.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s inhuman, or fascist, or evidence of Tories undying hatred for the disabled.

@71 Ah, but that is where half measures come into play. To use an unrelated example – Libertarians (well the Ron Paul variety) are opposed to gay marriage on the basis that the government should stay out of the marriage business entirely. They will consistently vote to deny lesbians and gays the right to marry (or at least have their marriage recognised by the state) but what they won’t do is campaign to have regular marriage removed from state recognition – ie follow their logic to the end point. So they’re effective anti-gay while claiming a facade of neutralness. In this instance we have calls for the nmw to be scrapped, with the assumption that benefits will of course pick up the pieces. But what happens if they don’t? What if the people calling for the nmw to be scrapped are also looking at ways to prune the benefits bill, not add to it?
Doesn’t sound like it’ll have a happy ending for those on the recieving end to me.

Tyler

Straw man. You yourself said that some people may not be able to work when you said they might need more time off due to their disability / health issues. This touches on the real world, which is a change from your normal ravings.

What I think is that a civilised society has minimum acceptable standards for everyone. That is not disempowering, it’s being civilised.

You seem to think that if an employer cannot pay a paltry sum for anyone’s time then it is in some way a barrier, when in fact the barrier is that the employer has a crap business. To argue otherwise goes towards indentured slavery if you follow your immoral, twisted logic.

Notably this comes up in the context of the most needy people in society and as I wrote before context is everything in this debate. The context is the cutting of disability benefits and the introduction of a private company to overturn the judgements of professional medics to force sick and disabled people into jobs that may even make their conditions worse. The real psychological torment this causes the most needy people should be enough to set alarm bells ringing, but apparently not for you and your fantasy freedom values.

“So they’re effective anti-gay while claiming a facade of neutralness.”

Fortunately I’m not a libertarian so I don’t end up disproving your thesis. For I’ve said many a time that the State should be in the marriage business. Registering a contract sounds like a good business for the state to be involved in really.

However, it should be entirely impartial in who is allowed to make that contract: any group or couple of whatever gender or sexuality. Consenting adults get to be consenting adults.

Chrurches also get to make their own rules, just like any other voluntary association.

In fact, just like marriage is here in Portugal. Thre’s the state marriage (gay or hetero, same contract, same rights) which is the only legally recognised contrat. And there’s whatever else you want to do after or as well as that, Church, whatever.

@ 73 Cherub

I don’t think you get it.

If input costs to a business are higher than profits, it simply won’t happen. For most businesses wages are a massive input cost.

If you artificially increase wages through a NMW, you increase input costs. This will only ever decrease employement.

Whilst I would like to agree with you that civilised society needs some minimum standards, a NMW doesn’t create that. It does create more unemployment, and a bigger barrier to those n benefits getting onto the first step of the job ladder.

As a case in point, I’m guessing that most of the products around you, and the clothes you are wearing are made in the far eat somewhere by people on significantly less than the UK minimum wage, who mostly have a lower standard of living than someone on the dole here. It’s a little hypocritical to argue for certain standards here, but take advantage of the labours of people who aren’t treated to those same standards. Regardless, those manufacturing jobs wouldn’t exist here because the products wouldn’t be profitable if the input costs (wages) were at UK levels. Which is why most UK manufacturing is now based around luxury goods.

76. the a&e charge nurse

[73] “You seem to think that if an employer cannot pay a paltry sum for anyone’s time then it is in some way a barrier, when in fact the barrier is that the employer has a crap business. To argue otherwise goes towards indentured slavery” – now let’s see if the marketeers can wriggle out of this piece of self evident logic.

I imagine the argument about kids having the ‘freedom’ to work in a sweat shop is just around the corner?

Tyler

I get it.

I disagree.

You seem to think that if an employer cannot pay a paltry sum for anyone’s time then it is in some way a barrier, when in fact the barrier is that the employer has a crap business. To argue otherwise goes towards indentured slavery

You’re looking at this the wrong way around. It’s not a question of an employer being unable to pay a worker the NMW, it’s a question of it being uneconomic for that employer to do so.

@74 Well I did clarify with “Ron Paul” libertarians, given that Ron is quite happy for individual states rights to override an individual’s rights when it suits. But when it happens federally – whoa state interference!

80. the a&e charge nurse

[78] for some reason your comment put me in mind of this item;
http://order-order.com/2011/01/18/sexist-penny-exploits-unemployed-offering-below-minimum-wage/

I assume this is the sort of thing you would like to see more of?

@20,

“Actually I think the only thing you’ve learnt is to change the subject with a personal attack every time you argue yourself into a corner.”

What corner? Every single point you’ve made in response would be adequately answered if I repeat myself ad verbatim and that appears to be your intention: to take nothing in and wear people down until they give up. To accurately describe and label you by what you do is not just a personal attack but valid criticism.

@80 A&E Isn’t going to Guido Fawkes some variation of Godwin? I was shocked, shocked!

83. the a&e charge nurse

[82] I had a note from my Mum to have a quick peek!

Staines may be a nob – but even nobs make interesting points occasionally?

84. the a&e charge nurse

Oh yes – and it is better to know your enemies!!

85. Mr S. Pill

(while I try and work out what “Panhellenic” means…)

@62

“Your logic is perfect in the land of the magic money tree, but back in the real worl it falls apart a bit.”

No money tree required, just a heavier progressive tax system – LVT for starters, Robin Hood tax for seconds, I’m sure others can mention other ways of getting more cash.

“If the NMW goes up, yet a company’s profits/productivity doesn’t, they will fire staff. A company *won’t* be in business if it always loses money.”

No indeed, and as I mentioned they don’t deserve to be if they are paying their staff an acceptable wage. That’s capitalism for you. Unless you’re advocating all businesses becoming workers co-ops? If so cool – we’re on the same team, then.

“There are not limitless funds to increase benefits if you feel they are too low. That money comes from taxpayers incomes.”

See my paragraph regarding “no money tree required”.

“I would prefer to have more people working”

Yes, me too.

“, even if it was for less.”

Damnit. We were getting along so well.

“I would also make sure it was better to work via the tax system, so people don’t find living on benefits better than working. Remember also that you might start low paid but the experience and time leads you up the jobs ladder till you earn more…for most people its not totally static.”

Having been on benefits and worked for the NMW (both for considerable amounts of time) I can safely say that working for the NMW gives me a far greater quality of life than being on benefits – and yes, financially as well as all the other benefits of being in work. The myth of “benefits being better than NMW” is just that, a myth, founded on a few examples of a 7-child family living in a fancy part of London or wherever*. For the majority of people working is always better. Problem is, there are not enough jobs (this is where you jump in and blame the NMW for there being no jobs, & we go around in circles).

The government should IMO be doing more to create jobs (and not going batshit insane by sacking tens of thousands of public sector workers).

*This isn’t to say I entirely disagree with you, I agree for example that the tax system should be changed so the poorer pay less when working for example. Increase the tax free allowance to (say) £11000. Although in conjunction with this I’d advocate increasing tax on the superrich (and the LVT etc etc).

“A company *won’t* be in business if it always loses money.”

No indeed, and as I mentioned they don’t deserve to be if they are paying their staff an acceptable wage.”

Acceptable wage means all businesses should go out of business.

Not quite what you meant I think.

87. Mr S. Pill

@86

My typo notwithstanding – I missed out a “not” between ‘are’ and ‘paying’ – you are deliberately twisting the meaning here. A company can be successful and pay its staff a decent wage – plenty do.
If a company can only afford to hire slaves then surely it’s better for that company to not exist.
It seems to me that you right-wingers forget that workers are human beings first and foremost and simply think in terms of economic units and productivity. Try broadening your horizons/having some compassion, you never know you might enjoy it.

Okay, here goes. If someone with a disability applies for a job where he is expected to reach a common standard, like pack so many boxes per hour, scan so many items per minute and he unable to do so, then he is unsuitable for that job. If, on the other hand an employer says ‘Okay, you cannot do the job at that rate, but you make a good fist of it, so we will hire you anyway, but at a rate lower than the minimum wage’ then as far as I can see that ‘new’ rate is the actual rate for the job. However, what if that disabled person CAN do the rate he is expected? Then what? Under Davis’s and the Tories proposals, that employer would still be entitled to expect that disabled person to take a cut in wages, to keep his job.

Clearly there are some jobs that cannot be accurately or sensibly measured. There is a guy in my local ASDA whose job entails saying hello to people as they come in through the door. Okay, ASDA know their job and they feel that the man is adding value, even if I cannot see it, but what if they sack that man and take on a disabled person in his place? They could state that the disabled man is not doing the job as effectively as an able bodied person and demand he sign his humanity away to keep his job.

This is nothing to do with helping the disabled. The vermin among the Tory Party have never shown the slightest bit of interest in the disabled before. This is about the persecution of the disabled and the covert destruction of the minimum wage.

A & E @ 76

I imagine the argument about kids having the ‘freedom’ to work in a sweat shop is just around the corner?

If a 14-year-old kid was hungry enough, surely they should be ‘allowed’ to exempt themselves from the child prostitution laws, and blowjob their way out of poverty?

“then surely it’s better for that company to not exist.”

The correct answer to all questions which involve the word “surely” is “no”.

“It seems to me that you right-wingers forget that workers are human beings first and foremost and simply think in terms of economic units and productivity.”

Quite, which is why I support society as a whole putting its collective hand in its pocket to support those who cannot do so purely through their own economic efforts.

There really are poeple with low value labour. We as a society are best off by people deploying that low value labout in those low value occupations. We all, collectively, get some production which can be shared from their labours.

The human beings bit first comes when we don’t sneer at them, tell them that they are worthless, rather, we encourage them to contribute, enjoy their contribution and then top up their living standards.

What, you think it better that everyone whose labout is not worth £6 an hour rot away on the dole?

Very caring.

90. Mr S. Pill

@89

“What, you think it better that everyone whose labout is not worth £6 an hour rot away on the dole?”

Nope. See the bit about “making more jobs” & “increasing benefits” & “not sacking lots of people” above. Oh and “increasing the tax-free threshold” too.

The only point I’m making is that if you are selling your labour it should be at a rate that allows you to maintain your dignity. The very point of the minimum wage, in fact.

91. Mr S. Pill

oh and “The correct answer to all questions which involve the word “surely” is “no”.”

Really now? You think a company that can only thrive by using slave labour has a right to exist. I should be surprised but then again you’ve defended child labour on this very blog previously…

The only point I’m making is that if you are selling your labour it should be at a rate that allows you to maintain your dignity. The very point of the minimum wage, in fact.

Indeed, with ever lower wages there comes a point when you are no longer working in gainful employment and are instead wanking for coins.

Tim W @ 89

What, you think it better that everyone whose labout is not worth £6 an hour rot away on the dole?

Yes, but how many people in this Country has an actual labour value of less than £6 an hour? What kind of jobs simply would not exist if labour costs got above that? Tesco and ASDA are highly profitable and employ people from all walks of life. Yet some of their staff get paid close to the NMW. In fact, some of the most profible companies in the Country pay the National minimum wage. There are hotels that make huge profits every night and the wage costs hardly make a dent in that profit. You could double the chambermaid’s rate and it would hardly make a difference to the cost of a room.

We have been here before, Tim. This is the point were I ask again, what are these low skill, low value jobs that you see in Lisbon or Porto that are not being done in Edinburgh or London because our labour costs are too high? What are the disabled people doing in Portugal that ours could be doing here?

@ 93 Jim

Well, given I guess you work for the state or a union, yours for a start…

but as I said earlier, what about all those manufacturing jobs that are now based in the far east because the wage costs would be too high in the UK to make them economic?

These people have a lower standard of living than people on the dole in the UK, yet you are happy to buy the stuff they produce for menial wages – then hypocritically say that it’s demeaning for people to work for less than the NMW here in the UK.

“This is the point were I ask again, what are these low skill, low value jobs that you see in Lisbon or Porto that are not being done in Edinburgh or London because our labour costs are too high?”

There’s an orange grove 50 metres from my house here. 50 metres from where I’m sitting. It hasn’t been picked in 3 years. Labour costs are higher than the value of the oranges.

Low skill low value jobs just don’t get done when wages are higher than the value that can be extracted from that labour.

Around the local area there are hundreds of olive, carob and almond trees (in fact, this used to be an almond farm). None of them are systematically picked of their fruits. Occasionally some family will have a day out to show kiddies “the old ways” and they’ll pick a 14 kg bag of carob. For which they’ll get €4.50. Or a passel of olives which they’ll take to the oil mill, get a few litres of real, home made olive oil.

I see all around me jobs that aren’t being done because wages are higher than the value that can be extracted from doing those jobs.

Tyler

Given your chosen nom de plume I wonder whether you actually like being metaphorically hit about the head.

You seem to be suggesting that just because we can’t change a bad thing somewhere else we should give up here. That’s absurd, but it is at least consistent with your other ideas in its relationship with reality.

Many lefties are actually quite careful what they buy, believe it or not.

That apartheid boycott had some effect in the end, didn’t it?

Tyler @ 94

Well, given I guess you work for the state or a union, yours for a start…

Nope, I work for a private company and I am not in a union, either. I have never had a public sector job, but I used to be a member of the T&G about twenty years and five jobs ago. Onwards and upwards.

but as I said earlier, what about all those manufacturing jobs that are now based in the far east because the wage costs would be too high in the UK to make them economic?

Nothing to do with the minimum wage I am afraid. When the NMW was introduced, it was at £3.60 an hour. No skilled or even semi-skilled worker is going to work at that rate or anything approaching it. Even today, with the minimum wage at a couple of pence less than £6.00 an hour semi skilled workers can find work well above that rate today. Cutting the minimum wage does nothing for manufacturing industry, as they still need recruit skilled and semi skilled people. Contact people in the manufacturing industry and find out the qualifications and skill sets they recruit from. Check out the job centre or a recruitment website and look at the wage rates for skilled and semi skilled workers, and see if you could tempt a welder say, out of his £22,000 job into a job where he is expected to earn, what? 85 pence an hour to compete with the far East? Good luck with that. Call centres in India are recruiting graduates, again if you can come up with a plan to persuade graduates to work for the equivalent of an Indian call centre worker, good for you.

However, if you want to introduce a maximum wage to reset the economy to compete with China, fair enough. I wish you every success chapping on doors at election time telling everyone on the average wage that they are earning ten times as strictly necessary.

Tim @ 95

That doesn’t answer the question though. You live in a Country with lower wages than I do, with higher unemployment and a poorer welfare State. You have repeatedly stated that all of these things transported to Britain would create jobs and some have boldly stated eliminate unemployment.

So, I ask again, given that wages in Lisbon are far lower than London. What services do you get in Lisbon that are missing in London?

I have to tell you, Tim, I live less than twenty miles from Edinburgh, yet I can access any number of services.

If you had the inclination you can eat a different style of fast food, mid range or fine dining every night of the week. You could buy cheap plastic tat a la Clare’s accessories, Elizabeth Duke, right up to top of the range jewellery and every conceivable niche in between. Ditto for cars, clothes, shoes, books, etc.

I am genuinely scratching my head at this concept. I cannot think of a single (legal) service I could get, if only the poor where screwed further into the ground. To be honest, the only things I could think of, I wouldn’t want at any price.

So, help me out, if lower wages create jobs, what services I am I missing?

“You live in a Country with lower wages than I do, with higher unemployment and a poorer welfare State. You have repeatedly stated that all of these things transported to Britain would create jobs”

Ah, no, I haven’t. You’re missing a very important part of the argument.

Wages are not the price of labour. Wages in relation to productivity are the price of labour. It isn’t how much someone gets paid per hour. It’s how much they get paid in relation to how much they produce.

Lower wages will indeed pull lower productivity people into the labour market.

But that’s just where we came in, isn’t it? That those disabled people who are indede lower productivity ought to be able to offer themselves for work at lower wages which reflect that lower productivity. Thus they get jobs.

(while I try and work out what “Panhellenic” means…)

It was a cheap and unworthy shot. The Panehellenic Socialist Movement are the governing party in Greece.

[78] for some reason your comment put me in mind of this item;
http://order-order.com/2011/01/18/sexist-penny-exploits-unemployed-offering-below-minimum-wage/

I assume this is the sort of thing you would like to see more of?

The media is, of course, the absolute home of people working for below the NMW. And Laurie’s argument in response to Guido’s challenge was basically the one being put forward on this thread – that while it would be uneconomic for her to pay NMW rates for the job, the intangible benefits of employment should be sufficient to make an exemption for this special case. I’m sure she was properly assailed on LibCon for being an inhumane Nazi.

101. the a&e charge nurse

[100] by all means advance the “intangible benefits” argument – it’s one that is entirely consistent with a right wing mind set (although the sort of thing that is likely to receive short shrift from bankers, lawyers, brokers and the like).

The problem for PL is that she is said be an advocate of both the minimum wage and gender equality – yet her actions betray these espoused beliefs – perhaps she has agreed to give her researcher (who presently must manage on “intangible benefits”) a subsequent cut of any profits generated by the book?

[88] you are quite right, Jim, according to youngsters in this UK study childhood became “a fast track from destitution to degradation”.
http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/cgi/news/release?id=52233

@ 97 Jim

You haven’t answered my question, and instead have gone to talk about skilled and semi-skilled labour, NOT the unskilled or low-skilled labour that the NMW will affect.

Let me jsut reiterate: WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT SKILLED OR SEMI-SKILLED WORKERS BUT ABOUT LOW OR UNSKILLED ONES.

As I said in an earlier post, wage costs in the UK are such that we have lost most of our base manufacturing, and are left with mostly highger end goods with larger margins.

Most jobs are unfortunately low skilled, not only in manufacturing but in retail and service industries. The NMW does certainly affect the levels of employment there.

Now, you try and answer the question.

The problem for PL is that she is said be an advocate of both the minimum wage and gender equality – yet her actions betray these espoused beliefs – perhaps she has agreed to give her researcher (who presently must manage on “intangible benefits”) a subsequent cut of any profits generated by the book?

Oh absolutely, it was a very amusing interface between her abstract political principles and her actual wallet.

104. Tom (iow)

Not to turn this into some kind of club, but I have mild autism as well, and I agree with Mason Dixon that the trick card here is the unwarranted assumption that someone with a disability is less productive. My experience is more of totally baseless prejudice, such as telling me I did not get a job because of not making enough eye contact (for a job as a telephone adviser).

I do not necessarily find the suggestion about the lower minimum wage offensive per se, but I do have some questions about it. How can the proposal to top up the wage with benefits work when a vast number of disabled people with serious conditions are already having their benefits stopped, even before they have a job? In practice it is a virtual certainty that the medical bar would be set so high that no-one in work could pass the assessment. Anyone being assessed would then face the further prospect of being labelled a benefit fraudster by the Daily Express and So Much for Subtelty.

Secondly, there seems to be a bit of two-faced attitude to the work. Sometimes it is great and life-giving, if only people out of work would give it a try. But the rest of the time it is a terrible curse which people on benefits are unfairly dodging their fair share of. Well which is it?

Tyler @ 102

WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT SKILLED OR SEMI-SKILLED WORKERS

You see, if you had managed to do some research into this you would not have made an arse of yourself. If you are talking about the type of manufacturing jobs that have left the Country in recent years, a significant proportion of those jobs are skilled and semi skilled jobs that paid significantly above the minimum wage.

Permanent staff recruited into these jobs are required to have higher standards of qualifications than no skill, no qualification jobs.

Most jobs are unfortunately low skilled, not only in manufacturing but in retail and service industries

The median wage in this Country is about £26,000 or £500 a week. Hardly counts as ‘unskilled labour’ does it?

The NMW does certainly affect the levels of employment there.

Does it? How? Tescos pay more than the NMW and so do ASDA, yet they are not going under and guess what? Twenty five million people get more than the minimum wage and they are not all facing the sack either.

The NMW covers low paid, service jobs, jobs that need done. Jobs like cleaners for example. No matter the minimum wage your local shopping centre is still going to need cleaners. At what point does your local shopping centre stop cleaning the walkways because it becomes ‘too expensive’? My guess is when is never.

Tim @ 99

But that’s just where we came in, isn’t it? That those disabled people who are indede lower productivity ought to be able to offer themselves for work at lower wages which reflect that lower productivity. Thus they get jobs.

However, they are only going to do work that needs done. So far these people are apparently* being kept of the labour force because they are unable to provide labour at an acceptable level. The premise being if we lower the de facto wage rate that will create jobs for lower productivity people. To me that implies that there are jobs currently not being done because they are economically unviable because no-one can turn a profit (or eke out) a living from it, under the present political climate. So what are these jobs that ARE being done by ‘low productivity’ people in other Countries? To be blunt, Tim, what do mentally retarded people do in low wage economies like Lisbon, that our (British) equivalent are not doing here?

The alternative, of course is nothing so dramatic. Is it possible that you in fact mean that forcing (let us cut the ‘allowing’ euphuism, no-one is fooled by it, OK?) the disabled to undercut people they will be able to displace workers, thus forcing everyone to sign waivers against the minimum wage?

Tim, I have used strong language to describe some of the people who post on here. I have used terms like ‘fascism’ and described people as Nazis, not words to bandied about and thrown into conversations lightly. I am as dismayed as anyone else who sees these terms used as throwaway insults. I stand by those accusations; I see little difference between the language used by the fascist movements around the World and the terms used by the more bitter elements here.

Tim I never really believed you were a foam mouthed scumbag, not really, but tell me you have no interest in using disability or serious illness as a battering ram to drive people into poverty?

*Of course some of the people we are discussing are currently in the workforce at or above the minimum wage. No doubt the Tories would want these people to accept wage cuts too.

“Tim I never really believed you were a foam mouthed scumbag, not really, but tell me you have no interest in using disability or serious illness as a battering ram to drive people into poverty? ”

No interest at all in doing so, no. For, as I’ve said, I think that’s it’s probably better that people have a job, any job, which earns them whatever, which we then top up from taxes to what we consider an aceptable income level, than we simply insist that those with low labour productivity rot on the dole.

I’m actually suggesting a method by which such people would increase their incomes.

@ Jim

It’s like talking to a child.

The point is not that they will stop needing those menial tasks doing, its just they will find cheaper ways to do it (like the automatic checkouts in supermarkets), or minimise their staffing costs in other ways.

There are about 13m people on low income in the UK (at or near NMW), of which about 6m are on out of work benefits of some kind. Which leaves a rump of approx 6m jobs…a huge amount…which are termed low or unskilled.

Thats out of a total of 29m employed people in the UK, so somewhere between 10-20% of jobs are going to be near NMW (checking ONS as an afterthought shows i’m not far off here).

I wonder how many of those people on benefits would be able to find jobs if the NMW wasn’t acting as a barrier?

What you dont seem to understand is that when a job becomes uneconomical, things will be changed to once again make it economical. Given that the main cost is wages, and given they aren’t allowed to reduce that below the NMW, their only option is to shed jobs.

@108 Those automatic checkouts usually need 1 or 2 staff members nearby anyway. For alcohol sales or general price checks. They’re a bit of a false economy tell the truth.

Tim @ 107

than we simply insist that those with low labour productivity rot on the dole.

Unemployment and long term unemployment is a fact of life Tim, and we both know that. The days of full employment, the political will or the political need to achieve full employment are gone. I agree that those people who have no ability to get into the labour market should not be let to ‘rot’ on the dole; but I do not want to see people exploited either, Tim. That is why I find Davis’ remarks so outrageous; I can only see one outcome here that being people being exploited. Call centre workers having their disability used against them, people with learning difficulties happily working away doing their job, but being called into the office and a bit of paper pushed under their noses and half their wages gone the next morning, simply because of a diagnosis ten years ago.

Tim, unless I have misjudged you I doubt you would be happy to see the Downs Syndrome chap at my local ASDA having his wages cut and, in my opinion, his value to society diminished. I fear that would happen.

There are people out there who I doubt could join the labour market, but we should look after them as best we can. I have no problem with giving people jobs in charitable organisations, topped up with benefits in the manner you speak.

112. Tom (iow)

>I have no problem with giving people jobs in charitable organisations, topped up with benefits in the manner you speak.<

How realistic and sincere is that though, given that people who are ying are having their benefit stopped completely leaving them no income at all? I reckon that second part of this plan would quietly disappear pretty quickly.

“I have no problem with giving people jobs in charitable organisations, topped up with benefits in the manner you speak.”

Eh?

It’s OK for people to work for low wages plus benefits as long as no one is making a profit, but not OK if they are?

Blimey.

Tim W @ 113

It’s OK for people to work for low wages plus benefits as long as no one is making a profit, but not OK if they are?

Yep, that is true and let me explain why. Charity is not perfect and big Businesses are not all evil, but I feel that disabled people are less likely to be exploited in a charity than a business. However the main difference is that in a charity, the disabled are not going to be used to undermine the able bodied people on the minimum wage.

I have said before, that is my fear. I really fear that companies and some people who expose this policy wish to use the disabled as a battering ram to destroy the minimum wage.

@113 I think he meant along the lines of a bonus top-up benefit for volunteering when unemployed, given his previous positions. (ie they’re still on JSA but being rewarded for contributing with more than a reference and couple of lines on yer cv)

Or not.

You have a different understanding of profits to me then.

I regard them simply as a signal that your ouputs are worth more than your inputs. That the process is adding value, a way of schecking that if you like.

Tim W @ 117

You have a different understanding of profits to me then.

I am not sure that we have a different understanding at all. I do not think that ‘profit’ is a bad thing or a dirty word. However, the drive for profit can and in some cases does push some employers to exploit people in difficult circumstances.

I think it entirely possible that people will be exploited IF you give business the ability to force (and that is what we are talking about, BTW) to take lower wages if they are disabled or otherwise disadvantaged.

“I think it entirely possible that people will be exploited IF you give business the ability to force”

Marx understood this and it always amuses me when modern day lefties don’t.

Capitalists are in competition with other capitalists for the profits they can make from employing labour. As the productivity of labour rises then that competition produces more competition for being able to hire the labour. Thus wages rise as productivity rises: as long as you have competing capitalists trying to make profits from that labour. (From the 18 th Brumaire, worth reading).

So, as disabled people, unfettered by the minimum wage, are able to show their higher than people previously thought productivity, then wages for disabled people will rise.

Which is what we want, right?

Tim @ 119

So, as disabled people, unfettered by the minimum wage, are able to show their higher than people previously thought productivity, then wages for disabled people will rise.

You don’t seriously think for a second that would actually happen do you? Tim, I accept that you are an ideologue, nothing wrong in that, I am not knocking you, but sometimes, just sometimes you have to accept that the ‘Real World’ blots your ideology somewhat.

Once disabled people are forced into accepting lower than the minimum wage, the minimum wage will be scrapped, or simply become unworkable, within two years of that and the price of labour will quickly follow.

Now there are some who would cheer such a move and there are some who would despair and we would argue the toss on this board about that. I could probably post your responses to such arguments and I bet you could parrot what I would say, but please do us all a favour and not pretend this is anything about ‘freedom’ and unfettering the disabled.

This is a pretty crude method of destroying the minimum wage.

“You don’t seriously think for a second that would actually happen do you?”

As someone who has employed people, does employ people and hopes to stay alive to employ more, yes, of course I believe that.

I employ people because they produce, for me, more than I pay them to produce for me.

That simple, that’s it. I have looked askance at someone with a “disability” and thought about not hiring them. In their specific case it was an inability to speak English.

Turned out to be blindingly good and the lower wages he was willing to work for to get taken on quickly got raised as I didn’t want to lose the profits I was making by employing him.

Tim W @ 121

Yes, but that is one example and no doubt there are others, but across the spectrum, by the millions or at least the hundred thousands? No, we will see a fall in wages for most people if they are exempted from the minimum wage. I am pretty sure of that.

“Turned out to be blindingly good and the lower wages he was willing to work for to get taken on quickly got raised as I didn’t want to lose the profits I was making by employing him.”

That is not how most capitalists would work.

If he was willing to work for shit, they would keep him on shit. You only have to see how woman are constantly underpaid, over the decades the wankers keep underpaying them.

It is not called trickle down for nothing.


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