This past week has all been “minimum wage this, minimum wage that”.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for Government to guarantee its hard-working citizens earn enough to get by, especially when the cost of living here is one of the highest in Asia.
What is minimum wage really? If employers are told that by law they must pay X amount of money to someone, then they will always pay only that amount of money and not a cent more in order to keep their operational costs down!
Why would they pay more? After all, there’s no incentive for them to go above and beyond what’s written in the law!
Another option, as pointed out by a recent article from the US, would be to peg the minimum wage to inflation; that way, if the economy is doing good, then the minimum wage increases naturally. If the economy is not doing so well, then it decreases.
In my opinion, that’s kind of unfair, because then workers and employees will be paying the consequences of something that’s out of their control: the economy.
Whether the economy is doing well or not, they will still be putting in their hours and working hard, so why should their salary decrease?
Another point made by the article is that “The least-skilled workers are seeing their wages fall over time, largely because they are out of work and failing to acquire the skills that come with working.”
But a progressive model might make more sense.
The efforts you put into acquiring new skills depends on you and your employer (and subsidies from Government helps). Both know what the job entails, both know which areas to improve, and both are able to plan a suitable career program.
In that sense, increases in wages that are progressive and proportional to your skills seems fair.
That way, good or bad economy, you’ve actively strived to remain relevant.
We shouldn’t underestimate people’s willpower to better themselves.
I’m pretty sure no workers – including low-wage workers – want harsh and inflexible rules to determine what they can or cannot earn.
At the end of the day, having the right skills will help sustain employment, and not just with current tasks, and open up other possibilities with higher responsibilities.
It’s not about helping low-wage workers, it’s about helping them help themselves. Even in schools we don’t encourage spoon-feeding, why practice it with the workforce?
Maybe one day we’ll see low-wage workers executing highly-skilled jobs, like these movers in Japan: