Employers soften line on Labour

The Engineering Employers’ Federation this week confirmed that it has told Labour it wants to be represented on the low pay commission the party would set up to establish a national minimum wage if it wins the election. The federation said it had not retreated from its opposition to the minimum wage, but had adopted […]

The Engineering Employers’ Federation this week confirmed that it has told Labour it wants to be represented on the low pay commission the party would set up to establish a national minimum wage if it wins the election.

The federation said it had not retreated from its opposition to the minimum wage, but had adopted a `pragmatic’ view – if Labour wins it will want a role in setting the lowest possible minimum wage.

`The mood has been shifting away from outright opposition to the minimum wage for a year or so,’ the EEF said.

The EEF council decided in November that it wanted to be represented on any low pay commission, but has not gone public until now.

A similarly pragmatic attitude has been shown by the EEF towards European-style works councils. The employers, who have opposed such worker representation bodies, want to be involved in deciding how they would be established by a Labour Government.

Many Labour MPs are also adopting a more pragmatic stance to the minimum wage, the EEF said, quoting its survey last November in which 39% of the 31 Labour MPs questioned believed it should be less than £4 an hour. The EEF said the average level suggested was £3.96, `well below the sum of £4.26 suggested by some unions’.

Earlier this month John Monks, TUC general secretary, said a minimum wage might have a knock-on effect on jobs.