1,368 research outputs found

    The British national minimum wage

    Get PDF
    Great Britain has had statutory regulation of minimum pay for much of this century but never previously had a national minimum wage (NMW). This paper outlines the history of minimum wage regulation culminating in 1997 with the establishment of the Low Pay Commission (LPC) and the introduction of the NMW this year. The main issues considered by the LPC were the definition of the NMW, the rate itself and what to do about younger workers. As well as its own deliberations, the LPC took written and oral evidence and held over 200 meetings around the United Kingdom. This process was vital in achieving unanimity around a NMW (Ăș3.60 from April 1999 for those aged 22+) acceptable to the government. Comparative international evidence on coverage and cost was also important in coming to our conclusions and the British NMW is towards the middle of the range of coverage among OECD countries. Although there is general agreement that minimum wage systems reduce wage inequality, their impact on the distribution of household income is more controversial. Evidence presented suggests the NMW may have a more egalitarian impact on household incomes than is sometimes asserted. The Report of the LPC is only the beginning of the story. Responses to it were generally favourable: parliamentary regulations are needed to translate the recommendations into law; the NMW has to be enforced and evaluated. This necessary follow-up to the Report is discussed in the concluding sections

    British Unions: Dissolution or Resurgence Revisited

    Get PDF
    Union membership rose by 100,000 in 1999 ending two decades of sustained membership losses Ă» the longest, deepest decline in British labour history yielding a cumulative fall of over 5 million members. This paper analyses that haemorrhage in membership and asks whether or not the recent increase augurs a resurgence in unions' fortunes. Membership data and voice arrangements are described first. Then the decline in membership in the 1980s and 1990s is analysed, emphasising both the failure of unions to achieve recognition in newly established workplaces and plummeting density where unions remain recognised. The health of unions turns, in part, on their appeal to potential members, so their ''sword of justice'' impact is set out next showing how unions have an egalitarian effect on the distribution of pay, cut accidents and promote both family friendly and equal opportunity policies in the workplace. It is unlikely that employment will grow disproportionately in unionised sectors of the economy. So any revival of unions depends on organising activity among both individuals and firms. The pivotal importance of new recognitions is discussed by analysing three forms of marriage between capital and labour Ă» true love, convenience and shotgun. The paper concludes that a twin track organising strategy would help unions partially reverse their membership losses Ă» signing up new employers but also focusing on the 3 million plus free riders who are covered by collective agreements but not members.

    Unions and Productivity, Financial Performance and Investment: International Evidence

    Get PDF
    If the presence of a union in a workplace or firm raises the pay level, unless productivity rises correspondingly, financial performance is likely to be worse. If the product market is uncompetitive this might imply a simple transfer from capital to labour with no efficiency effects, but is probably more likely to lead to lower investment rates and economic senescence. Therefore the impact of unions on productivity, financial performance and investment is extremely important. This paper distils evidence on such effects from six countries: USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Japan and Australia. It is not possible to use theory to predict unambiguously any union effect on productivity because unions can both enhance and detract from the productivity performance of the workplace or firm. The evidence indicates that, in the USA, workplaces with both high performance work systems and union recognition have higher labour productivity than other workplaces. In the UK previous negative links between unions and labour productivity have been eroded by greater competition and more emphasis on 'partnership' in industrial relations but there is a lingering negative effect of multi-unionism, just as there is in Australia. In Germany the weight of the evidence suggests that the information, consultation and voice role of works councils enhances labour productivity particularly in larger firms. In Japan unions also tend to raise labour productivity via the longer job tenures in union workplaces which makes it more attractive to invest in human capital and through the unpaid personnel manager role played by full-time enterprise union officials in the workplace. Unions will reduce profits if they raise pay and/or lower productivity. The evidence is pretty clear cut: the bulk of studies show that profits or financial performance is inferior in unionised workplaces, firms and sectors than in their non-union counterparts. But the world may be changing. A recent study of small USA entrepreneurial firms found a positive association between unions and profits and in the UK the outlawing of the closed shop, coupled with a lower incidence of multi-unionism has contributed to greater union-management cooperation such that recent studies find no association between unions and profits. North American and German evidence suggests that unionisation reduces investment by around one fifth compared with the investment rate in a non-union workplace. In both Canada and the USA this effect is even felt at low levels of unionisation. The UK evidence is mixed: the most thorough study also finds that union recognition depresses investment, but this adverse effect is offset as density rises. The exception is Japan where union recognition goes hand-in-hand with greater capital intensity.unions, productivity, profits, investment

    The British National Minimum Wage

    Get PDF
    Great Britain has had statutory regulation of minimum pay for much of this century but never previously had a national minimum wage (NMW). This paper outlines the history of minimum wage regulation culminating in 1997 with the establishment of the Low Pay Commission (LPC) and the introduction of the NMW this year. The main issues considered by the LPC were the definition of the NMW, the rate itself and what to do about younger workers. As well as its own deliberations, the LPC took written and oral evidence and held over 200 meetings around the United Kingdom. This process was vital in achieving unanimity around a NMW (Ăș3.60 from April 1999 for those aged 22+) acceptable to the government. Comparative international evidence on coverage and cost was also important in coming to our conclusions and the British NMW is towards the middle of the range of coverage among OECD countries. Although there is general agreement that minimum wage systems reduce wage inequality, their impact on the distribution of household income is more controversial. Evidence presented suggests the NMW may have a more egalitarian impact on household incomes than is sometimes asserted. The Report of the LPC is only the beginning of the story. Responses to it were generally favourable: parliamentary regulations are needed to translate the recommendations into law; the NMW has to be enforced and evaluated. This necessary follow-up to the Report is discussed in the concluding sections.

    (Not)Hanging on the Telephone: Payment systems in the New Sweatshops

    Get PDF
    'The ultimate objective of empirical work on incentives should be to find out why firms use the compensation systems they doĂ huge advances in our understanding could be made by a concerted effort to collect data on contracts.' So concludes the 1998 Journal of Economic Literature survey on compensation systems. This paper does just that. It presents very detailed case study evidence on contracts in four organizations, three of which are call centres, the fastest growing sector of employment in the UK. This evidence is used to test predictions from the New Economics of Personnel (NEP) concerning the incidence of payment systems. We also contrast and test predictions from NEP with those of the earlier British Institutional School, which anticipated many of NEP's ideas on payment systems. Variations in the ratio of performance-related to basic pay among our organizations can, broadly, be explained by the costs and benefits of monitoring inputs and measuring output, which comprises the core of NEP. Indeed, the monitoring of our case study employees is the theme which binds the paper together Ă» for call centres Jeremy Bentham's 1791 Panopticon was truly the vision of the future.

    The Design of a Carbon Tax

    Get PDF
    We consider the design of a tax on greenhouse gas emissions for a developed country such as the United States. We consider three sets of issues: the optimal tax base, issues relating to the rate (including the use of the revenues and rate changes over time) and trade. We show that a well-designed carbon tax can capture about 80% of U.S. emissions by taxing fewer than 3,000 taxpayers and up to almost 90% with a modest additional cost. We recommend full or partial delegation of rate setting authority to an agency to ensure that rates reflect new information about the costs of carbon emissions and of abatement. Adjustments should be made to the income tax to ensure that a carbon tax is revenue neutral and distributionally neutral. Finally, we propose an origin-based system for trade with countries that have an adequate carbon tax and a system of border taxes for imports from countries without a carbon tax. We suggest a system that imposes presumptive border tax adjustments with the ability of an individual firm to prove that a different rate should apply. The presumptive tax could be based either on average emissions for production of the item by the exporting country or by the importing country.

    Chinese Unions: Nugatory or Transforming? An 'Alice' Analysis

    Get PDF
    China has, apparently, more trade union members than the rest of the world put together. But the unions do not function in the same way as western trade unions. In particular Chinese unions are subservient to the Partystate. The theme of the paper is the gap between rhetoric and reality. Issues analysed include union structure, membership, representation, new laws (e.g. promoting collective contracts), new tripartite institutions and the interaction between unions and the Party-state. We suggest that Chinese unions inhabit an Alice in Wonderland dream world. In reality although Chinese unions do have many members (though probably not as many as the official 137 million figure) they are virtually impotent when it comes to representing workers. Because the Party-state recognises that such frailty may lead to instability it has passed new laws promoting collective contracts and established new tripartite institutions to mediate and arbitrate disputes. While such laws are welcome they are largely hollow: collective contracts are very different from collective bargaining and the incidence of cases dealt with by the tripartite institutions is tiny. Much supporting evidence is presented drawing on detailed case studies undertaken in Hainan Province (the first and largest special economic zone) in 2004 and 2005. The need for more effective representation is appreciated by some All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) officials. But reasonable reforms do seem a long way off, so unions in China will continue to echo the White Queen: "The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday - but never jam today" and, alas, tomorrow never comes.China, trade unions, Hainan Province, collective contracts, collective disputes, membership

    Analysis: why 361,000 nurses are not enough to maintain the health of NHS England

    Get PDF
    Professor David Metcalf writes about the Migration Advisory Committee’s review of the labour market for nurses in the UK and the increased demand for foreign-born nurse

    Unions and the Sword of Justice: Unions and Pay Systems, Pay Inequality, Pay Discrimination and Low Pay

    Get PDF
    Dispersion in pay is lower among union members than among non-unionists. This reflects two factors. First, union members and jobs are more homogeneous than their non-union counterparts. Second, union wage policies within and across firms lower pay dispersion. Unions' minimum wage targets also truncate the lower tail of the union distribution. There are two major consequences of these egalitarian union wage policies. First, the return to human capital is lower in firms which recognise unions than in the unorganised sector. Second, unions compress the wage structure by gender, race and occupation.Unions, pay distribution, discrimination
    • 

    corecore