Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Reform Jersey Press Release - the 'Living Wage'

Living Wage – what we were not told.

Reform Jersey member, Deputy Geoff Southern today accuses the chief minister of misleading States members, the media and members of the public over the presentation of the report into the viability of adopting a living wage for Jersey.

Although on the surface the report appears to be a neutral and technical document” says Deputy Southern, “it is in fact a highly political and skewed view, designed to put as many blocks as possible on the path to the adoption of a Jersey living wage.

The research conducted ignores the two central aims of the minimum wage:
  • to reduce in-work poverty and dependence on benefits, and
  • to lift working families out of relative low income (poverty)

The report avoids dealing with the former by ignoring completely the evidence from the 2014 London living wage report which shows an hourly rate to meet basic living costs excluding benefits of between £11 and £15.84 for families with children and between £6.50 and £13.45 for those without.

Similarly, the London report suggests that to lift families above the poverty line would require hourly wage rates, excluding benefits, of between £11.60 and £15.84.

In suggesting that Jersey already has a living wage and need do little more, the Chief Minister reneges on his promise to protect the poor and vulnerable. He governs by spin,” says Deputy Southern.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Reform Jersey response to Zero-Hours contract report

In June 2013, JACS expressed the following concerns about zero-hours
contracts –

“We are concerned that some employers are using zero-hour contracts in circumstances that may not be appropriate.”

As a result, the then Social Security minister agreed a proposition to investigate the use of zero-hours contracts which included the following terms:

csubject to the outcome of consultation with stakeholders, to bring forward for approval suchdraft legislation as is deemed necessary to restrict any proven misuse of zero-hours contracts.

“In a skimpy 12-side report, the current Minister, Deputy Susie Pinel, has failed to address any of the serious issues raised by the use/abuse of zero hours in Jersey” says Deputy Geoff Southern. The report fails to assess, or even address, these vital questions:

  • Why 1 in 10 workers has a zero-hours job in Jersey, (UK 1 in 50)?
  • What the extent of inappropriate use of zero hours is?
  • How do variable incomes interact with the income support system?
  • What do low incomes mean for Sickness benefit thresholds?

The department fails to ask the right questions and therefore comes up with no proposals for regulation, merely a code of practice, which in the absence of any policing can safely be ignored by a rogue employer.Stakeholders, whether employers or employee representatives, have not been consulted, apparently.

No attempt has been made to investigate the impact of zero hours on the 25% of employees reported in the Social Survey as expressing dissatisfaction, or the 50% of workers who complain about the reduction in benefits such as pension or sick pay attached to zero-hours jobs.

“After 18 months of waiting, workers have been let down by this shoddy and superficial report. We shall have to start from scratch to do some proper research and ask the right questions, if we are to make any progress in controlling this controversial element of employment law, says Deputy Southern.