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Languages: English
Types: Unknown
Subjects: M100
After some observations about the developing history of wages council system (including the current 'model' that is still provided by the Agricultural Wages Boards in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland - and comparable systems in the Republic of Ireland (JICs) and elsewhere in Europe), we argue in the paper that a restored wages council system – under that or other name, but with new features – would offer attractive ways of addressing current shortcomings in the Labour Law framework. While it is clearly necessary to retain the national minimum income floor provided by the NMW (a system providing protection for the lowest earners in the bottom quintile of the labour market), a re-worked and improved wages council system could offer considerable scope for better, more functional re-distributive mechanisms at sectoral levels. In effect, this would provide higher 'floors' based on what employers within those sectors can afford. The need for legally enforceable terms and conditions is clear, especially in a labour market like the UK's where, unlike most of the rest of Europe, there is no 'inspectorate' system; and access to Employment Tribunals is now increasingly difficult and expensive. \ud At the heart of a restored, rejuvenated system would be a necessary and valuable forum for dialogue between employers and employees/social partners, as well as opportunities, within a tripartite system, of enabling government to provide a 'public interest' voice, and supporting information to assist negotiations on proposed changes in sectoral conditions. \ud The need to address the rising and unsustainable fiscal cost of in-work State support - a system that was only ever intended to provide a temporary programme of State-funded welfare-to-work initiatives, coupled with the need to arrest the continuing decline of collective bargaining, are the basis of further points in the system's support. \ud Issues, too, around the need to address widening inequalities and gender disparities, featured in the presentation and ensuing discussion.
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