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Friday, June 17, 2011

MP: Disabled people should work for less than minimum wage.

Earlier today, a BBC news producer tweeted a story that provoked an instant twitter storm.

It read, "Tory MP Philip Davies says disabled people should offer to work below minimum wage so they get a job when competing with able-bodied people.". Paul Twinn followed up with information that this had been said in the House of Commons, that his statement applied to people with mental illnesses as well, and that he will provide a link to the statement on Hansard when it is available later.

Suggesting that disabled people should offer to work for less than the minimum wage is an outrageous proposition on many levels.

1) Firstly, disability is expensive. The cost of living is much higher for disabled people, and disabled people are more likely to live in poverty. Non-disabled people struggle to survive on the minimum wage, so disabled people living on less than that is a prescription for extreme poverty.

2) It creates a two-tier system in which disabled people are viewed as second-class citizens who are not worth paying the legal minimum wage to. We couldn't possibly have a lot to offer to an employer, we are automatically only worth employing if we can undercut the non-disabled competition.

3) Access to Work and various benefits which support disabled people to work, are all being cut by this government. This makes working for less money even less realistic.

4) Suggesting that people seeking employment undercut the minimum wage essentially makes the minimum wage meaningless. We fought hard for a national minimum wage. Before it was introduced I had a friend working in a sports shop for £1.50 an hour, and this was completely legal. His wages were pretty much tripled when the law was introduced. If employers can pay less than the minimum wage on the suggestion of the employee, then it makes a mockery of the whole thing.

5) Disabled people need MORE support to work, not less. To quote @HelenWayte"I just don't understand how someone can look at vulnerable/marginalized people and think 'lets make things harder for them'".

And this is the same Philip Davies who 'never understood' why blacking-up was offensive.

This isn't the best blog post I have ever written, but I am so full of rage that this is how little one of our parliamentarians values disabled people. I am too ill to be doing this right now, which of course is the point. It makes me a very easy target.


Bill Kruse said...

It's good of Mr Davies to promote employment for the mentally ill and leading by example is a wonderful thing but perhaps he should fire the obvious loony he has making policy suggestions for him.


Redclaire said...

It's completely outrageous that you or I should ever be in the position of needing to justify why disabled people shouldn't work for below the minimum wage!

As if disabled people haven't been screwed over enough over the years with all these crappy employment schemes where people get paid what amounts to about 80p an hour as a "training allowance" for doing work indistinguishable to the naked eye to any other job.

Cara said...

Want higher employment for disabled folks? Then force employers to provide accessible workplaces, opportunities for part-time work and flexible working hours, and reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.

Anonymous said...

Also if you do happen to have a job already and you are disabled it is likely as you say to be low paid. Also any access to credit is made difficult because you are on a low wage and generally firms offering credit to you, only offer at higher interest rates or non standard high street rates which causes a vicious circle. So being paid a low wage exacerbated by the high price of fuel etc, means you have no real option but to take out vredit with these types of companies etc in order to survive. I know of one company that have just started to employ people with experience of disbility, but rather than start them on the same wage as the lowest paid existing band they have created a lower grade paying just ove £13k for a fte 37.5 hour post. When you consider that statistically they say that the poverty line is actually about £14k.

TheExecutiveHippy said...

Utterly ridiculous. How do people like that get into positions of such power when they clearly have no compassion for the people?

Also, I'm shocked by how low your minimum wage is, and that it varies depending on age! Here in New Zealand we have one minimum wage for all legal workers and in pound terms, we earn a whole pound more than the average 21year old employee in the UK, per hour.

Though I suppose our expenses may vary... For instance, our power, rates or food might be more costly. Hard to say.