I took part in a debate on the National Living Wage. The debate was called to ensure that the Government would guarantee that no worker will be worse off as a result of the introduction of the national living wage.
The reason for the need of this debate was that businesses have been accused of changing the terms and conditions within peoples contracts so that the cost of the new higher national living wage is reduced in real terms by cuts to overtime, lunches and other privileges.
Some large high street retailers have been accused of cutting overtime pay for their employees so that in effect the living wage is cut back to levels before its introduction.
During the debate I called on the Government to make a register of the companies that have undertaken such action, and bring them to a round-table meeting to explain that the purpose of the living wage is to improve, not reduce, people’s expenditure power.
Although I cautiously welcomed the new national living wage when it was introduced, the actions by businesses in their implementation of the wage is showing the weaknesses in the Governments plans.
It is not right that those who most need the higher living wage are those being hit hardest by large businesses who are forcing contractual changes on them. We have been a low wage economy for too long. The Government need take action now.
This is not new. Labour, when we introduced the National Minimum Wage, faced businesses reluctant to implement a fairs days’ pay and we took action against them. Ending the loopholes that were being used and bringing those to court who failed to pay the minimum wage. The Government need to replicate that action now.