Business groups warn Welsh government on 'living wage' - BBC News Business groups warn Welsh government on 'living wage' - BBC News

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Business groups warn Welsh government on 'living wage' - BBC News

Business groups warn Welsh government on 'living wage' - BBC News

The Welsh government is looking at how devolved public sector bodies could be encouraged to become 'living wage' employers.

Business leaders have warned the Welsh government not to push for private sector pay rises as ministers investigate public sector wage levels.

Labour has a manifesto commitment to find ways of making sure all Welsh workers are paid a "living wage".

Business groups say it may stop firms taking on staff or even mean layoffs.

The Welsh government says it is beginning to examine how devolved public sector employers can be encouraged to pay a living wage.

A policy group of interested parties is expected to meet over the summer.

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I'm afraid it just isn't realistic in the environment we live in”

End Quote Robert Lloyd Griffiths Institute of Directors

Academics at Loughborough University have estimated a living wage is at least £7.20 an hour. The current statutory minimum wage is £6.08 an hour for workers aged 21 and over.

Welsh NHS workers and Welsh government civil servants are already paid at least the living wage.

A number of big private sector employers, including Barclays Bank and accountants KPMG, are also signed up to paying it.

But business organisations warned Welsh ministers not to try to force them to raise wages, for example by inserting living wage clauses in government contracts.

Robert Lloyd Griffiths of the Institute of Directors said he was concerned the living wage would effectively become the new minimum wage.

"Businesses would like to take on more staff and lots of companies that I talk to would love to be in a position to be able to take on more employees," he said.

'Very difficult'

"It's very difficult out there and anything that now will hinder them from doing that, which they'd like to do, is going to cause problems.

"I'm afraid it just isn't realistic in the environment we live in."

Anna Milewski, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "We have to look at it from the employers' perspective, we've surveyed them.

"They say that an increase can, at best, deter them from taking on staff at worst actually result in them laying off staff, which would not be a positive outcome, of course."

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If we're the trailblazers we hope the private sector won't be so frightened of it”

End Quote Julie James Labour AM

The Welsh government said: "Unlike the minimum wage, the living wage is not statutory.

"However, any employer in the UK is free to sign up to the Living Wage Foundation's campaign. The Welsh government is starting to look at how devolved public sector organisations have been engaging with the idea and what it would take to encourage those organisations to become living wage employers.

"This is a key reason the Minister for Local Government and Communities [Carl Sargeant] has decided to set up a policy group, so that consideration of the benefits, in much the same way as they were in London, can be given collaboratively. That group has yet to be brought together, but it is anticipated that this will happen over the summer."

Labour AM Julie James said: "If we're the trailblazers we hope the private sector won't be so frightened of it and will actually see the benefit of a workforce which when they're happy and healthy work harder, stay longer, are more and actually do better work. So it's a win win, really."

Young campaigners, working with Save the Children, recently petitioned the assembly for a living wage above the minimum wage.

Iram Shahzad, a 13-year-old pupil at Fitzalan High School in Cardiff, told BBC Wales Sunday Politics that people in her community were working long hours but not earning enough money to cover their everyday essentials.

"It's not fair that they don't get to live a happy life," she said.

James Pritchard, head of Save the Children in Wales, said a living wage would be a "direct way of starting to tackle child poverty".

Sunday Politics is on BBC One Wales at 12:00 BST.

Lamenting the money chase while chasing money - Philadelphia Daily News

 President Obama's voice echoed in the majestic rotunda of the Franklin Institute as he lit into the Republicans with fierce urgency.

"We want to move forward and make sure that elections aren't just about $10 million checks being written by folks who have vested interests in maintaining the status quo," Obama said, to applause. "The other side, they don't have any new ideas. . . . What they do have is, they'll have $500 million worth of negative ads."

In a note of irony common to modern politics, Obama was in the process of raising campaign cash while decrying its corrosive effects. Three events in the Center City science museum raised nearly $2 million Tuesday night for the president's reelection effort and Democratic committees supporting it.

And that was just after three similar events in Baltimore; by Thursday, Obama was at a star-studded gathering of donors in actress Sarah Jessica Parker's Manhattan home. The insurgent candidate of 2008 who promised to change our politics is now outpacing his modern predecessors in the amount of time raising money.

The people standing in front of the president beneath a marble statue of Benjamin Franklin had paid $250 to $2,500 to hear a fired-up stump speech. Meanwhile, in the Fels Planetarium, some 90 people waited for Obama to address them at a $10,000-a-ticket dinner. And earlier, about 15 people who had each pledged to raise or donate $40,000 got to sit at a table and talk privately with the president for 45 minutes.

"I was pleasantly surprised by the level of enthusiasm and the seriousness with which our donor base took this," said lawyer Kenneth M. Jarin, a cochairman of Obama's 2012 finance committee in Pennsylvania, who helped sell tickets. "They know what's at stake. People understand how much money is being spent by the other side, and that our side has to step up."

But all the hard work of Obama supporters in the months leading up to the Philadelphia events, overseen by Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen, seemed puny the next day - when casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson gave $10 million to Restore Our Future, a "super PAC" helping Republican Mitt Romney.

Court and regulatory decisions in the last few years have led to unprecedented levels of money as corporations and wealthy individuals pledge to spend hundreds of millions, mostly in support of Republican candidates.

The amount of time presidents spend asking for cash has risen sharply in recent decades, according to Brendan Doherty, a political scientist at the Naval Academy and author of The Rise of the President's Permanent Campaign, to be published in July.

Obama has attended more fund-raising events in the second half of his first term than any of the last six presidents - 166 such events through Friday. In two years before Ronald Reagan's 1984 reelection, Reagan attended just three fund-raisers for the Republican National Committee, zero for his own campaign. Bill Clinton, once lionized and derided for his fund-raising prowess, attended 70 campaign-finance events in 1995 and 1996, when he was reelected.

Now, in the wake of the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling, the sums flying around are enormous. Adelson and his wife have given $35 million this year, mostly to a super PAC that backed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's presidential run.

"It's the Wild West, an entirely different dimension," said Larry Makinson, former head of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan watchdog group. "The bottom line is, it magnifies the power of the 1 percent who've got all the money."

In a sense, Obama kicked off the latest installment of the political arms race in 2008 when he chose to spurn public financing for his campaign, Makinson said. Obama raised about $750 million and swamped the GOP.

This time, Obama got ahead of Romney, out-raising him $197 million to $87 million by March 31. But Romney's donations have outpaced the Democrats since he sewed up the GOP nomination. And that doesn't count super PACs' funds, where Republicans dominate.  

People raising cash for Obama here say it is a little harder than four years ago, when the campaign to elect the first black president felt like a movement; one dinner at Cohen's home that year, for instance, raised $6 million. The weak economy has also hurt.

Still, enough donors are eager and able to write big checks. Among those at the $40,000 event, according to several attendees: Jarin; former State Sen. Connie Williams of Montgomery County; Cohen and his wife, lawyer Rhonda Cohen; developer Ron Rubin; Mark Alderman, a lawyer and cochair of Obama's state fund-raising committee; Joseph and Marie Field, who founded the radio broadcasting giant Entercom; and Richard Horowitz, president of RAF Industries, a Jenkintown private-equity firm.

Businesswoman Marsha Perelman attended the $10,000 dinner. She thinks Obama's approach to government, promising investment in education and other public goods, will be better "in the long run" for business than Romney's promises to slash regulations, government, and taxes.

As is customary, a few reporters were ushered in to record Obama's opening remarks. Then the press was shooed away as the president said he'd take questions.

Perelman, who chairs the Franklin Institute board, said Obama didn't drop any bombshells in the planetarium dinner, but it was still revealing.

"One of the questions asked referred to how difficult it is to get the president's message across," Perelman said. "He made a terrific reference to how hard it is to cut through a news cycle that is a nanosecond long: During the Bay of Pigs, President Kennedy did not announce the invasion until 13 days later. He had time to figure out what happened, and 70 percent of the nation tuned in when he went on television.

"President Obama said that if that happened today, within two minutes somebody would have tweeted about it. And the highest audience he ever gets for a speech, the State of the Union, is 10 percent of the population."


Contact Thomas Fitzgerald

at 215-854-2718, or @tomfitzgerald on Twitter. Read his blog, "The Big Tent," at


Money laundering cases tough, critical - Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

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McALLEN — When it comes to arresting drug traffickers and dismantling organized crime, the investigation into a U.S. horse racing operation allegedly laundering money for one of Mexico’s most powerful cartels is rare — and difficult to ...

Central banks urged to keep markets stable - Daily Telegraph

“There’s no such thing as a ‘market-friendly’ Greek election result,” said Nicholas Spiro, of Sovereign Strategy, arguing that New Democracy’s “mandate for reform will be weak”.

He added: “Investors view political developments in Athens through the prism of contagion to Spain and Italy.

“The slender victory of New Democracy should reassure the markets that Greece is not about to leave the eurozone any time soon. However, any relief rally is likely to be short-lived since there’s not much to be relieved about.

“In Greece, days and possibly weeks of political horse-trading lie ahead, while in Spain a full-fledged bail-out of the sovereign is looking increasingly likely.”

Even with a new government, Greece is expected to request an extension of its fiscal targets set by March’s €130bn (£105bn) bailout agreement. Meanwhile, capital outflows from Greece’s stricken banks have reached more than €800m each day, with €10bn having been pulled out of Greek banks since the last election.

European finance ministers held crisis talks by telephone tonight and were expected to discuss further action from the European Central Bank.

On Friday, Mario Draghi, president of the ECB, said he stood ready to provide liquidity to eurozone banks.

“This is what we have done throughout the crisis... and this is what we will continue to do,” he said.

A leaked draft of a proposed European summit document revealed plans to issue short-term bonds backed by the whole eurozone.

The debt instruments, which for short-term funding issuance are limited to a fixed percentage of economic output, fall short of the powerful “eurobonds” that have been demanded of Brussels but could be a vital step forward.

This weekend it emerged that Fran├žois Hollande, the French president whose socialists won control of the parliament today, has sent European leaders a proposal for a €120bn “growth pact”.The pact proposes generating liquidity from project bonds and the European Investment Bank as well as imposing a financial transactions tax.

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