• November 26, 2015


Earlier this week John Shimmin MHK (Minister for Policy Reform – that’s the job that’s not really ministerial) set out to justify why seven civil servants share £1 million a year between them.

Only last week the Minister for Economic Development (DED) was standing in the Keys justifying a minimum wage of £7 an hour to be introduced next year.

If anything shows the ‘parallel universe’ that operates on this Island and how out of touch the MHK/MLCs are it was this.

Lets be blunt the minimum wage is and always has been set at a level that makes it little more than slave labour. It suits the government because it maintains a utilisable pool of unskilled workers that there chums in the business community can exploit and exploited they are.

DED Minister Laurence Skelly waffled on about ‘dignity in work’ and ‘a decent standard of living’ but its all smoke and mirrors because with rising costs not least from government continuing indirect charges and stealth taxes minimum wage workers will be worse of in real terms come January when the rise kicks in 3 months later than it should have.

We have told the Minister that after a quarter of a century of a prosperous and caring society the only people who are better on are his governments chums in the Chamber of Commerce (below):
“The Minister for Economic Development
Mr Laurence Skelly MHK
Department of Economic Development
St Georges Court
Upper Church Street
Isle of Man

24th November 2015

Dear Minister,

In announcing the recent increase in the minimum wage (which will not take effect until next year) you said;

‘Work should pay. There is dignity in work. I believe it is important that people who work hard should be able to maintain a decent standard of living as a result of their labours.’

Now let us be clear this is an economy that has enjoyed levels of growth for several years that some other developed Western European economies can only dream about. We have according to government a requirement for additional labour hence the Chief Ministers periodic calls (aping the message from the Chamber of Commerce) that we need to grow the pool of available labour.

Despite this the ‘dignity’ you espouse, for working people this will amount when the increase filters through to £280 per week BEFORE deductions.

Already before that increase has been realised increases in indirect taxation will have eroded it to the extent that most workers who are on the minimum wage will actually be worse of in January than they are today in real terms.

Let’s consider those workers. Many work in retail, unskilled manual, hospitality i.e. catering and bar staff etc. They are open to abuse from employers and abused they are!

Their hours particularly for retail, catering and bar staff will have, in some instances, been slashed prior to the Xmas period because of the late autumn downturn in those areas. They will now have a window of employment, not offered to them but forced on them, by the type of employers most have. This period of increased hours will again be curtailed for many in early January.

There is little employee protection for such workers and precious protection in the vague contracts they enjoy. Your government and those that preceded it have seen to that workers in the Isle of Man do not have the protections available in other comparable societies.

Put bluntly we have a section of the population here that are exploited and yet you believe if they ever get to realise the increase in the minimum wage there will be ‘dignity in their work’?

With the greatest of respect Minister I sometimes wonder what planet MHK/MLCs are on. I wager very few of you would regard a wage of less than £7 (shortly to be uplifted to the FULL £7 figure) as very ‘dignified’.

This Island has had a quarter of a century of a caring and prosperous society and yet the only people who have benefited (disproportionately) are the folk you and your colleagues rub shoulders with at the Chamber of Commerce.

There is NO dignity in £280 less deductions for a full week – workers here need a living wage and they need it now particularly as the indirect charges and stealth taxes that you and your colleagues introduce start to bite. Low paid workers are not on a ‘stand still’ income today their income is actually going backwards and debt beckons for most.

I’m reminded of a famous quote from a programme made by the iconic American news man Ed Murrow quoting an employer in his documentary ‘Harvest of Shame’:

‘We used to own our slaves; now we rent them”

There’s no dignity in working for your £7 (when it arrives) the minimum wage is slave labour now and it will be then!

Yours sincerely
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information”
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Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues


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