Another look at wages

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The provincial government has struck a panel to study minimum wage and it shouldn't take long before a public debate begins anew.

The last time the wage was moved in stages over a few years to the present level of $10 an hour, there was plenty of handwringing by business owners who worried the hike would put them out of business. That obviously was wasted worry. A few marginal operations may have shut their doors, but for the most part, everyone adapted and businesses continued to make money.

Business owners may not admit it but the rise in the minimum wage may have actually been a benefit to them and their operations in the long run. Finding workers for unskilled jobs in this province is becoming more and more difficult as the workforce ages and many workers either leave for a better life in Alberta or make a solid living flying back and forth to jobs out west.

Having a minimum wage at a level that keeps some workers in this province and encourages others who are retired to work part time takes some of the stress off employers who always need enough staff to service their customers.

There are always some snarky few who say unskilled workers don't deserve anything near $10 an hour and ask why we are considering giving them even more?

Those people should try to live on $400 a week or less to feed their families and pay for a place to live.

They are also often the first ones to complain when they go to a local store and can't find a worker to assist them when they need information or directions or have to wait an extra minute for a menu. No business wants to pay out money unnecessarily but paying staff a living wage is far from a waste.

It pays off in the end — for both sides.

Geographic location: Alberta

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Recent comments

  • Colin Burke
    August 16, 2012 - 09:45

    Shawn, you make a good point. I suspect that the author of those postings from "A Business Man" is either a devotee of Ayn Rand indulging a fantasy or suffering a delusion or else a parodist trying to expose the real attitudes behind the facade of the "Ideal Capitalist."

  • John Hickey
    August 14, 2012 - 07:39

    And there you have it folks. Straight from the donkey's mouth. This is why we have serious problems with acquiring gainful employment in this country. It's people like this with a skewed mindset and self-centred attitudes that have destroyed our economy. I don't need to continue to criticize this embecile as his own over-the-top comments is doing that for him. All you, the reader, have to do is read his comment and you get a very clear picture of how he and other business owners are the creators of most of our economic woes. Judge him for yourselves. I'm sure I speak for many, if not most, Newfoundlanders when I say that we don't give a hoot about your bottom line and your aspirations Mr. Business Man..When you have to walk on the backs of your fellow countrymen in order to further your own greedy goals, you're not much of a businessman, boss or human being. Maybe we need to outsource YOU to Mexico and good riddance.

    • a business man
      August 14, 2012 - 19:20

      Say what you want, but I have the legal right to conduct my business as I do. I follow all the law, I pay 6 figures in personal+business taxes each year. So A) I am not doing anything wrong & B) I contribute lots of money to our tax base, arguable more that my fair share. Also note that I pay 6 figure salaries to engineers, accountants, marketing professionals, lawyers, MBA executives and IT professionals. I am happy to pay high wages to skilled and educated workers. In fact, I have to pay them high wages to retain them, because they are so skilled and educated. I also pay them high wages because they are part of the Canada I want us to become. The same cannot be said for unskilled uneducated workers. They offer nothing worth retaining. Their labour, be it in factory or a call center, is worth so little because it is readily available around the world at a cheaper cost. It can be replaced at the drop of a hat, so there is no reason to pay anymore than the minimum allowed. In any case, I stand by my comments and will conduct my business as I see fit because I have the legal right to do so as a taxpayer, citizen and voter. Not only am I making money, but I am helping rid Canada of jobs that are, in my opinion, bad for the country. Maybe I am wrong, but I am entitled to my opinion, and allowed to be wrong. Either way, I think offshoring manufacturing jobs is a good thing, and I am happy to have a job in which I help transform Canada into the country I want it to be. You are free to start up a company and hire whoever you want. We all have a right to do what we can to make Canada the country that we want it to be for our children and grandchildren.

    • What a load
      August 15, 2012 - 11:05

      LMAO, that's quite the yarn. Yes sir, now he claims he's paying six figures in taxes. Well of course he is, we all do, because two of them figures are behind the decimal point. You're getting your stories mixed up. Remember a few weeks ago you owned several fast food restaurants but now it's engineers and IT professionals. I recommend you start writing these stories down so as to keep them straight. Thanks "Business Man" for the laughs and good jokes.

    • a business man
      August 16, 2012 - 06:08

      @ what a load: I own many many businesses all across Canada and the USA. I own fast food restuarants, gas stations, call centers, factories, shipping and recieving companies, rental properties (residential and commerical) and other businesses. I paid a computer engineeer a six figure salary to design customized software and eliminate the need for 600 workers. Now, the work gets done automatically by technology, and instead of paying people wages and benefits, I put that money in my pocket. If you look closely, you should see that those jobs are all primiarily staffed by unskilled workers. This means that they workers can be replaced easily, and this is my leverage for never giving raises or benefits. They workers know that they can leave if they want, but also know that if they leave, they can be replaced within the hour because nothing they do is specialized or requires and education. Thus, they have no leverage, which is ideal for me. I also have investments in the health care sector in the USA, and thus wish for privitized health care because I see it as an opportunity to make money. Outside of those business, I own share in holding companies that own other companies, so honestly, I cannot keep track of all the organizations that I have a stake in. That all said, none of those companies mean anything to me. Yes, I get paid, but I am a lawyer by trade, so these businesses and profits are supplementary my career and incomes from being a lawyer. Yet, in recent years, I have made more money by offshoring jobs and using cheaper workers, and I have built a lurcrative law/counstuling service that focuses on helping Canaidan companies realize increased profits by operating outside of the borders. As the lawyer/consultant, I explore the laws of other jurisdictions, I manage the transition abroad, and I resolve the legal disputes with the employees that end up losing their jobs. I get paid lots of money to provide this service, and then pay lots of taxes to OUR government. And while doing so, I actually get to help rid Canada of jobs that I don't want in my country; jobs that, in my opinion, are beneath Canadians. So you can believe whatever you want, I and I will keep doing whatever I want....we both have the right ot do so as voters, citizens and taxpayers.

    • What a load
      August 16, 2012 - 08:05

      @ "business man": Sure you do, ' wink wink'. Why I bet one of your lackeys is writing this for you. LOL. Keep it up "business man". A good laugh is a great way to start the day. Our own Danny wannabe.

  • a business man
    August 14, 2012 - 05:45

    @ John Hickey....yes, I am for real. As a business, I am not concerned about the poor or the unemployed. I demand tax breaks or I will leave. Plain and simple. Sure, 10% of our population may be unemployed, but if 51% of the voters are okay with that, then democracy is served. I am okay with the loss of manufacturing jobs because I think manufacturing jobs are bad jobs. As a customer, I am okay with more good being produced offshore because I will save more money. As an environmentalist, I support offshoring manufacturing jobs because with the jobs go the environmental damage of production. So, I am okay with putting Canadians out of work if it means less pollution in Canada and cheaper prices for me. I not sure how these people will sustain their families and continue with their mortgages, but that is essentially their problem. My problem is determining how to make the most amount of money for MY family, and that has nothing to do with these people's needs. The sole focus is my bottom line, and regardless of who this methodology may be problematic for, it is good for me and it is my right to operate in this way. I not only suggest that 10 bucks an hour is too much to pay the average unskilled worker, I make it a rule for my companies and offer this rule as advice for other North American companies. Sure, 10 bucks barely allows a worker to keep his or her head above water, but that is not my issue. Perhaps they should have taken steps in their own lives to acquire marketable skills and experience. I did. You ask who am I to judge who does or doesn't deserve that paltry amount and I respond that I am the boss, the owner, the sole decision maker and the job creator. I do what I want within the law. The other side of the coin is that I have a vision for Canada. I wish for a Canada that does not have any dirty, physical manual labour jobs. I don't want those jobs for me, my children, my enemy, or his children. We are all, as Canadians, better than that. We need office jobs, desk jobs. Gone are the days where a hard days work is enough to get into a middle class life. Now, a good job requires at least a university education, and I happy about this. I am a taxpayer, a voter and a citizen. I am entitled to my opinion, regardless of what others think. As far as I am concerned, the middle class should be composed of educated, skilled professionals and office white collar workers, not blue collar manufacturing workers. I envision a Canada where blue collar workers are left out of the middle class, and the only way this can work is to create enough white collar jobs to have a vibrant economy. Sure, some people will be left out, but as long as the majority of voters are happy, then democracy is served.

    • A business man indeed
      August 14, 2012 - 07:58

      Didn't bother reading past "or I will leave". Please do, but based on what you've been posting I doubt you are a business man - at least not a successful one. Successful businessmen don't spend all day patrolling the newspapers forums. They're usually too busy making money.

  • Shawn
    August 13, 2012 - 09:23

    What happened to my comment on this topic? Why does the Editor here constantly censor my comments? This is a newspaper, a media outlet, why the censorship here?

    • Devil's Advocate
      August 13, 2012 - 20:18

      You're not alone my friend. It's usually comments that have a valid point and have nothing to do with anything offensive.

  • John Hickey
    August 13, 2012 - 07:36

    @ A business man....Are you for real ?? I have read your other rants in here as well as this one and I can only conclude that you are deranged... You have the same mentality as the Republicans in the U.S...Give the poor and struggling nothing and make sure that businesses get all the breaks possible.. We have over 10% of our population out of work because the factories and warehouses in the manufacturing sector have shut down their operations and outsourced to places like Mexico and Taiwan, leaving hundreds of thousands without jobs or any way to sustain their families and continue with their mortgages. But when we have people like you who don't care about these people's needs and only about your own bottom line, this methodology becomes problematic.. How dare you suggest that a measly 10 bucks an hour is too much to pay the average worker, skilled or unskilled.. With the outrageous and ever-increasing cost of living these days, 10 bucks barely allows a worker to keep his or her head above water, even with strict budgeting. And who are you to judge who does or doesn't deserve that paltry amount ? If you want to move your businesses out of NL, move them all out, including your so-called consulting business..Then, how about moving yourself out, permanently. This province can do without your type of insulting economics..Why this newspaper even prints your comments with it's controversial, even dangerous, content is beyond me. You have no supporters for your point of view and I'm certain that if Newfoundlanders knew who you were, your business interests would be boycotted anyway, and rightfully so. I've never seen a person touting himself as having so much education, yet still manages to come across like a brainless twit. If all your education only resulted in you becoming proficient at screwing people, you or your parents sure wasted a lot of money on tuition etc..

  • a business man
    August 10, 2012 - 06:56

    I am of one of those that says that unskilled workers don't deserve anything near $10 an hour and ask why we are considering giving them even more. I don't see how paying them more benefits me in anyway. I don't need the to be by customers, I just need them to work. On one hand, I will already planning on moving jobs our of NL to a right to work US state where I will pay roughly $7/hour, but an increase in the minimum wage will make be do it sooner. I can certainly afford to pay my workers more than $20 dollars per hour and till turn a profit, but the workers do not deserve anything more than minimum wage because they are unskilled and uneducated. I will not try to live and feed my family on $400/week because I know I need more money. I knew I would need more money when I was younger, so I went to university, law school and then business school. Now, I have a nice life that I earned for myself. As such, I have very little respect for those who did not use the opportunities provided in Canada to become successful and educated. Anyway, the other side of this is that, as an outsourcing consultant (on the side), an increase in minimum wage can help me make money: I can approach firms pitch them on moving their company out of NL and into an area with a lower minimum wage. I know many NL companies that will be unhappy, and I can make lots of money by helping them find a place where they can pay their workers less. So on that note, maybe increasing the minimum wage is best for me because then I will surely get some lucrative consulting work. What is sad however is that many do not realize that it is the workers that will end up losing out in the end.

    • Shawn
      August 10, 2012 - 16:20

      What companies could you possibly convince to move to a right to work state? A good percentage of employment o the island is based on both Federal, Provincial or Municipal Governments so you won't be convincing them of anything. The retail sector? Food and Beverage? Why would any of those types of businesses want to move down there when they could simply start another there and profit from both? Manufacturing sector maybe? Not much work there for you because we manufacture very little on the island. What we do manufacture here is produced at facilities that already have great investment debt and it's not feasible for them to move to another country to save a fraction of a small expense. The oil and gas industry can't leave the oil. Maybe you could convince some of those fly-by-night call center corps to move down there. That, of course, would benefit all of us to have that filth leave our ecosystem, so by all means, have at it brother. For a "Titan of Industry", you don't put a lot of thought into your ventures, and all those degrees has not taught you much about spelling and grammar.

  • David
    August 09, 2012 - 13:21

    THis shows how truly we are now a province completed divided into two....the Avalon, with it's out-of-cpontrol economic boom, and the rest of the island, with little economis activity other than the increased number of provincial government make-work jobs. This is economic suicide for the very part of the province that is already on life support. --- administered by government decree.