News that engineering employers are making overtures to Labour over a minimum wage is no surprise. As the prospect of a Labour government moves nearer, employers groups are making a gradual policy shift from positions of principle to ones which will work in the impending political climate.
The EEF’s stance on a minimum wage is just one example. The group itself admits that, while its opposition to the principle remains, it wants to be involved in setting the level of that wage.
For many engineering employers the issue is not about the minimum wage itself, but the more general effects it will have on levels of pay and annual rises. One obvious fear is that skilled workers will demand pay increases to keep them ahead of the pack. A second is that annual increases to the minimum wage itself will set another national minimum standard for annual pay increases and re-establish the notion of a going rate.
A voice on a low pay commission will give the EEF a chance to get a system that suits industry as well as the low paid.
New Labour is working hard to open up a meaningful dialogue with industry. More pragmatism from employers will go a long way to maintain a positive industrial climate.