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Should there be a minimum wage?

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Your views on the minimum wage debate.

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      08.05.2012 12:01
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      There's a great scene in the West Wing where the opposing Republicans to President Bartlett's ruling Democratic Party want to introduce compulsory military service for under 18s not in employment or college, the theory being it will be popular with the older electorate and the kids the policy is aimed at are too young to vote against it. Is it me or do you always get that feeling of a cul-de-sac for young workers in Britain when the Tories get in? I remember my first wage was less than a £100 a week and for the full 40 hours under Thatcher, adults all around me doing far less for double the money. With the loss of the Education Maintenance Allowance on top of one million unemployed youngsters it's no surprise we have seen things like the riots return. Cheap labour... Big business, of course, would rather not pay young people anything if they could get away with it, the scandal over the government Work Programme very revealing. Whether the big supermarkets and retailers backed out of the scheme because they were indeed exploiting the kids or it was simple brand damage thing we will never know but I must admit I was amazed how quickly such a small group of protestors could bring down the governments flagship scheme, corporations always concerned how they are perceived by their consumers, but the same customers backing the Work Programme. The fact the government put welfare up by 5% and froze the kid's minimum wage says it all on where they want the youngsters to be, high unemployment always deflationary. The Tories hate inflation. In fairness I think most employers joined the Work Programme so they could cherry pick the best kids for fulltime jobs and so saved on training costs but you can be pretty sure that most of the protesters with the placards huddled in those Tesco's stores were on the dole and not to keen on working for nothing. For me a sensible compromise would be that you work your dole money in hours - before tax - at current minimum wage rates, which would be about 20-25 for the 18-20 year-olds at £4.98 and 10-15 a week at £6.08 for the over 21s, work experience far more important for raw cocky youth if they haven't worked before. National Minimum Wage... *£6.08 - aged 21 and over *£4.98 - the 18-20 rate *£3.68 - the 16-17 rate *£2.60 - the apprentice rate, for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship. In recent decades companies have dumped their apprenticeship responsibilities and passed the cost on to tech colleges and universities, which churned out too many kids in the wrong disciplines, which the same companies then moan about. The solution is obvious there guys. But employers can easily exploit the current apprenticeship schemes and have the kids for one or two years for £2.60 an hour and then dump them on their 19th birthday when their rate all but doubles and so to get two more spotty 16-year-olds in for the price of one. I suspect that is tempting. Immigration... What also changed youth employment in recent years is the mass arrival of rather industrious workers from Eastern Europe, some 1.2 million of transient labor washing in and out of the UK since 2005, a delicious amount of new workers for employers to cherry pick from and refresh their companies. But what surprised the government most was not only the volume but the social class of these guys and girls, 90% of them and young blue-collar and surprisingly willing to work the dirty jobs they are taking on mass, perhaps not what the British working-class is so keen on these days. But if you stand back and actually look at the amount of time the individual Poles actually do those boring jobs for on the temp agencies its not much longer than the Brits would have, so the stat skewered to make the Brit's look lazy, purely because of the numbers of Poles willing to pick up the rifle when the other one is had enough of packing biscuits all day. It's just that the British welfare system allows us to put down the rifle and avoid those jobs. If the Poles could sign on they would. They will soon. Employ are own.. The owner of up market sandwich chain 'Pret a Manger' has recently been accused of ignoring British youth because the majority of his staff is Eastern European. He claims the Brits weren't applying for his jobs. But they operate a unique system where if a new employer is accepted by their co-workers after just one days work experience they are in. If most of the staff are now Poles its natural to pick another Pole. Only 19% of their staff are English in 2012. Another negative for young British workers caused by immigration is, as from April, we all lose the right to an industrial tribunal until we have been employed for two years and so can be sacked without due cause and lose our accrued pension and holiday pay, twenty Poles waiting in the wings to take the jobs. That will happen. The key to the future is getting young people into work to generate decent pension's plans for the old people still in those jobs. The oldies need to move over or we are stuffed. Racism... Rather cynically a lot of the one million young people now not in work are losing their jobs are often ethnic minorities in the public service, the young black male unemployment rate doubling under the Tories, 54% of them now not in employment. That also seems to turn the Tories on. Public service operates quota systems so they have to employ a certain amount of ethnic minorities and always a career that they felt fairly treated in and equal in interviews. Not now. You can feel the Tories right wing finger print on everything they do and it's rather worrying. They simply don't care how many people they put out of work to control our debt, a debt that cuts into their supporters greedy profits.

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