Wednesday, 9 May 2012

PAY UP! (or else...)

With Occupy in the UK being ignored by previously friendly media and UK Uncut losing momentum, there appears to be an attempt by the same people involved to kick off a new direct action campaign, this time on low pay - PAY UP. There's not a lot detail on it at the moment apart from on Twitter but the message appears to be simple - people on low wages can't afford to live on what they are paid with the solution being that big business can afford to pay them more and therefore should. Like UK Uncut before them, it is relying on an emotive issue with a seemingly obvious and simple solution. It also fits in well with the anti-capitalist narrative that runs through these groups. I'll take a different perspective on this however:

1. Someone working full time on the minimum wage of £6.08 is going to have around £1,200 of tax and NI deductions per year. I'd question why on Earth the government is taxing them in the first place and then insanely giving some of it back in the form of Working Tax Credits.

2. As for Working Tax Credits, the Occupied Times article claims that it is a subsidy to the private sector. I'm inclined to agree so ideally we'd stop it, the theory being that wages would have to rise to compensate. There's a big failing in this which brings me nicely to point 3...

3. A lot of low skilled, low waged jobs will pay minimum wage because there is no shortage of people willing to do the work for that sort of money and so there is no reason for a company to increase its costs unnecessarily. There's no shortage of workers because of unrestricted immigration from Eastern Europe - it's unfair to have a go at the immigrants for this though; they're just taking advantage of an opportunity to make a better life for themselves. Be honest, if you could triple your salary by slumming it for a couple of years, you'd do exactly the same.

So if you want to help the lowest paid, I'd suggest tackling the above from 3 to 1 in that order - cut immigration, cut Working Tax Credit, and cut income tax and NI. For these it is the government you need to be talking to.

Ironically, if PAY UP follow UKUncut's modus operandi and force shops to close because of their protests, they will end up leaving the workers that they claim to support out of pocket. If they aren't working, then they don't get paid...

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