Minimum Wage

Minimum wage first appeared in New Zealand in 1894 and in the state of Victorian in Australia in 1896 after a campaign that took place. It was later introduced in various European countries and in 1912 was introduced to North America in Massachusetts (LabourBranch, 2005). The minimum wage in Massachusetts only applied to women or minors working for certain industries and had many exceptions to it (LabourBranch, 2005). Afterwards, many states in the United States adapted the idea of the minimum wage (LabourBranch, 2005). In Canada, fair wages were introduced for people who worked with public works or on government contracts (LabourBranch, 2005). The next step was creating policies that protected those who were paid low wages and worked long hours in unhealthy conditions (LabourBranch, 2005). The first provinces to enact minimum wage legislation were British Columbia and Manitoba, in 1918 (LabourBranch, 2005). Other provinces in 1920 and after began to adapt the minimum wage policy as well, however this applied only to women in some work places (LabourBranch, 2005).

The argument that Brook and Watkins’ put forth against the minimum wage stems from the idea of the employer and employee relations (Watkins, 2013). The government with their minimum wage is the one who decides what rate of pay that person gets (Watkins, 2013). There is no negotiating ability between the employer and employee in accordance to what that person is actually capable of or what kind of labour the job entails (Watkins, 2013). In some instances the labour required for the job maybe quite extensive, however, with the minimum wage that person would not make what they actually deserve (Watkins, 2013). The idea behind the minimum wage is to ensure that all of those who are working can earn a living with a set minimum wage (Watkins, 2013). The issue with this is that it is not true, the minimum wage is not enough to allow for someone to actually make a living (Watkins, 2013). It would take a long time to save up an adequate amount of money to make any large purchases or to achieve certain goals that require money.

The school of thought that best fits the argument Brook and Watkins’ present is the Unitarian perspective – this school of thought promotes the employer and employee relationship in order to increase individual liberty and wealth (Tucker, 2006). By sharing this common goal, fairness between employer and the employee is increased. The overall goal of this perspective is to create a social environment that meets the needs of both the employer and employee (Tucker, 2006). The Unitarian perspective sees the current labour law amongst the capital labour market, to be extremely flawed (Tucker, 2006). It allows the government in a sense to be an interfering body between the employer and employee by setting barriers such as the minimum wage to deprive the employer and employee from making their own decisions by negotiations (Tucker, 2006).. Various factors should be considered when determining a person’s wage that should be based on the person’s value of the labour provided (Tucker, 2006). It would be unfair to pay someone less while their job entails working in possibly harsh conditions or unsafe environments. (Tucker, 2006).

The counter school of thought to Brooke and Watkins’ argument would be Liberal Pluralists, who believe the complete opposite of the Unitarians in that the current ways of the labour law are fine the way they are (Tucker, 2006).. The Liberal Pluralists recognize the imbalance between employers and employees and feel that there is an unfair division between the two (Tucker, 2006).Also, concerns addressed by employees may not be taken seriously (Tucker, 2006). Therefore, the need for labour laws is important to provide rights for both employers and employees as a whole. Having these issues looked at require protective legislation’s, such as the collective bargaining which is an agreement between both employers and employees on manners for which issues maybe be addressed and what rules or regulations should be in place (Tucker, 2006).. The minimum wage is favoured under this school of thought because it ensures that the employee is not being paid far below a decent set amount (Tucker, 2006). By having the minimum wage, it allows for fairness as believed under this perspective (Tucker, 2006).

My opinion on the argument presented by Brook and Watkins’ for arguing against the minimum wage is in disagreement with their views. I do understand where their point for the argument that they are making, however it does not seem realistic. Not all jobs could allow for employers and employees to sit down and negotiate what a proper rate of pay would be. This could possibly lead to conflicts before the employee has even started work. Certain jobs, possibly jobs that require a certain amount of education or particular knowledge, could allow for negotiation in order to ensure a fair rate of pay is set for that person’s knowledge and competencies. The minimum wage provides safety for those who are looking for a job; they do not have to fear that they would be paid a ridiculously small amount. The minimum wage, even though it may not provide enough to maintain a standard of living, it allows for some income to be present that is guaranteed. I do believe that the minimum wage should be determined in relation to what the cost of living would be and should not be too low.

Sources

LabourBranch. (2005, May 01). Minimum Wage Database Introduction. Retrieved November 13, 2013, from Labour Program.

Tucker, E. (2006). Locating Labour Law: The Regulation of Occupational Health and Safety. In E. Comack, Locating Law (pp. 152-178). Black Point: Fernwood Publishing.

Watkins, Y. B. (2013, March 27). Forbes. Retrieved November 13, 2013, from To Protect The Defenseless, We Must Abolish The Minimum Wage: http://www.forbes.com/sites/objectivist/2013/03/27/to-protect-the-defenseless-we-must-abolish-the-minimum-wage/

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One response to “Minimum Wage

  1. This is a good post.

    You conclude by noting that you disagree with Brook and Watkins. Is it possible to go one step further and locate their argument in relation to a worldview that promotes certain interests (at the expense of others)? You correctly associate their argument with the unitarian perspective on labour law.

    Also, a question: You cite the liberal-pluralist perspective as providing a counter-argument to Brook and Watkins’ position. What about the Marxist perspective? How would a proponent of this approach respond to their argument?