Threat to minimum wage in Wales, follow-up

Huw Lewis AM has responded to last week’s story which raised concerns for the future of the minimum wage in Wales.
The fear is that Gordon Brown is considering proposals to cut the £5.35 wage in areas where living costs are lower and to increase them in London and where costs are higher.
Having Sir Digby Jones, the former head of the CBI in the government, also set alarm bells ringing at What Is Wales? – Diggers has long opposed the minimum wage.
As politicians’ silence on this issue has been deafening, What Is Wales? and Valleys Mam brought the issue up on Huw Lewis’ busy new blog and the Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney AM was quick to respond.
“I honestly cannot see a situation that would lead Brown to cut the minimum wage in the regions,” stated the AM, who represents one of Wales’ poorest areas.
“I think there is near universal acceptance (apart from on the loony right) that the national minimum wage is a fundamental plank of this country’s social justice agenda; it is crucial to making work worthwhile and therefore hugely important to battling poverty and economic inactivity in constituencies like my own.
“I am not against the idea of exploring a ‘living wage’, nor am I completely appalled by the idea of more support being offered in areas of high pressure.
“I am sure it is more difficult to live on the minimum wage in London (where deeply entrenched poverty still exists) for example – but that cannot come at the price of cuts in areas of deprivation. I would certainly oppose any such move vociferously and I am sure the majority of my Labour colleagues would too.”
There can be no doubting Mr Lewis’ position, then.
However, when he points to members of the loony right’s opposition to the minimum wage, it is hard not to become all-pantomime audience and shout: “He’s behind you!”
Jones is in government now.
Only three years ago, he blustered: “The country’s hard-earned stability will be threatened if we see wage inflation across the board caused by large increases at the lower end.”
He was talking about the rate rising to just £5.35 an hour!
His position has always been that the minimum wage can have a “serious impact” on the economy.
Did Gordon Brown bring him into government just to ignore him?

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