Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/641/10373
Paying below the minimum
WE HEARD a lot at the New Labour conference in Manchester about the party's 'proud record' for working people. One of the 'jewels in Labour's crown' was said to be the minimum wage, introduced in 1999.
It's recently gone up from £5.80 to £5.93 an hour - wow! What are we going to do with all that extra cash? However, there are thousands of employers who don't even pay this paltry minimum.
Last June, optician Benjiman Gains was fined for failing to pay the minimum rate to four of his workers at his two shops, BG Optical on Breck Road and County Road in Liverpool.
Gains, who paid his staff up to 40% less than they were entitled to, was ordered to pay a £3,696 fine.
He had provided workers with annual contracts based on salaries that appeared to be close to the minimum wage rates but he had altered the staff members' actual rates of pay by back-dating contracts to show different hours of work. He had also removed staff entitlement to paid meal breaks.
What are we to make of this?
Firstly, Mr Gains has lived up to his name and made a mint for a while. A fine of less than £4,000 is a very unfunny joke.
Secondly, it turns out that this is only the seventh prosecution of an employer for failing to pay the minimum rate - in eleven years! A record to be proud of indeed - if you are on the side of the bosses!
Paul Gerrard, Salford Socialist Party
In The Socialist 6 October 2010:
Defend Child Benefits
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party workplace news
Health and Safety
Europe: fighting the cuts
International socialist analysis
Socialist Party review