Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country"

I think many people will be surprised that an American President ever said such a thing. But it makes perfect sense. 

 

I recently discussed a national living wage with someone who argued that a living wage rate was okay for a rich area such as London but not for poorer regions such as the South-West of England. He argued it would destroy jobs in those poorer areas.

 

Thinking about it now I should have argued "why?". If it was legally binding to pay a living wage and all companies had to pay it then there would be no competitive advantage to pay poverty wages. The introduction of the national minimum wage showed that a wages floor does not destroy jobs.


I would go further than FDR and make it clear that a living wage should also include pensions, holidays and sick pay but perhaps that what he meant by "the wages of decent living". 


"No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level. I mean the wages of decent living."

 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt 1933".

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