The New Labour government introduced a national minimum wage (NMW) in 1999. At first this was opposed by the Conservative party, but they have since joined a growing political consensus. The Low Pay Commission (LPC) are tasked with recommending NMW rates that 'help as many low-paid workers as possible without any significant adverse impact on employment or the economy’. The LPC’s apparent success in achieving this, may be one reason for growing political census, so it is perhaps worrying that a National Living Wage (NLW) is being set without these considerations. Len Shackleton, Professor of Economics at the University of Buckingham and Editorial and Research Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, sets out these issues and more in a recent IEA paper on Restructuring Minimum Wages. Prof. Shackleton argues that the system has become overly complex and recommendations made by the Taylor Review will only add to this complexity. In this interview we consider his proposals and what the future may hold for UK minimum wages.
Recent decades have seen radical change in the way that conflict is dealt with in UK workplaces. Collective industrial action has been replaced by pursuit of individual employment rights through litigation, via Employment Tribunals (ETs). Richard Saundry is Professor of HRM & Employment Relations at Plymouth University Business School. He has written extensively on workplace conflict and brings a wealth of experience, including time spent at NUM HQ at the start of the 1990s. Peter and him consider why employees in certain types of firm report higher levels of conflict; whether ‘vexatious’ ET claims represent a significant cost to firms and discuss how conflict is resolved in the modern workplace. In this modern setting, what role is there for the union movement and what are the implications of Brexit?