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Minimum wage debate: what should we be demanding?
The Socialist is running a debate. How can we end low pay and what minimum wage level should we be fighting for? In this issue, readers share their thoughts. If you've got a view, email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read what's been written so far at socialistparty.org.uk
Could a nationalised taxi service work?
Chris Parry, Bristol taxi driver
Clive Walder raises the idea of a publicly owned/nationalised taxi industry, as part of an integrated publicly owned transport system. (See 'In my working life we could afford homes and holidays').
It sounds like a big stretch. But, as a taxi driver, the more I think about it - it's doable, worth fighting for and a lot better than the 'dog eat dog' race to the bottom we have now.
Of course, it would have to be truly democratic workers' control and management at every level. Who knows how to organise the work better than the drivers and workers in the industry?
Otherwise it wouldn't really work. A nationalised taxi service would have to be far superior to the situation we have today.
We could have a decent standard of living without having to be on the road 24/7 - employment rights, sick pay, holidays and a pension. This may not seem like that much, but it's a far cry from the situation we face today.
We'd be able to cut out all the bosses, whether they're multinationals, national or local fat cats - we all know them - so we'd have far more money for decent wages, to invest in the industry, or whatever else was democratically agreed. Taxis could then be made as green as you like, with fares being heavily subsidised or even free.
There are many sectional interests in the taxi industry - hackney carriages, private hire of all kinds - but the lesson we'd all learn is that unity is strength. We can prove that we are not a bunch of 'dodgy spivs', how drivers are often painted, but part of the social glue. Public ownership of cabs would allow us to develop our role in aiding mobility, particularly for the elderly and less able.
There you go! Good idea Clive!
Any other taxi workers who may read this should write in with your ideas.
£12 or £15
In the session debating the minimum wage at Socialism 2019, I asked who thought we should call for £12 an hour or for £15. Nearly everyone indicated for £15. Afterwards, some of those who indicated £12 suggested they were more persuaded towards £15, although not committed yet.
I was definitely for '£15 now' before I wrote the Socialist's recent centre-page article (see 'Minimum wage debate: how can we end the scandal of low pay?'.
But the discussion made me think that perhaps what our updated 'What We Stand For' column says - £12 now as a step toward £15 - is probably right at the moment. That said, agitating around one national figure is best, and that would have to be £15.
Alistair Tice, Yorkshire Socialist Party
Too low just as counter-productive as too high
Alistair Tice's speech on a £15 minimum wage at Socialism 2019 was well-researched and thought provoking.
One point I'd not considered was that, in certain circumstances, setting a minimum wage goal too low can be just as counter-productive as setting it too high.
David Hofman, West London Socialist Party
- To hear more about what happened at Socialism 2019, go to socialistparty.org.uk
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In The Socialist 27 November 2019:
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