The minimum wage rise implemented this week for UK workers aged over 21 has received mixed reaction from the printing industry.
From 1 October the national minimum wage for over 21s increased by 11p to £6.19 an hour although the hourly rate for workers under 21 has been frozen.18-20 year olds will continue to receive remains at £4.98 an hour, while 16-17 year olds’ rate remains at £3.68 an hour. Apprentices were afforded a tiny increase, in the review, of 5p bringing their hourly rate to £2.65 an hour
BPIF chief executive Kathy Woodward said the changes were not particularly helpful in the current climate. She added: "With margins low and difficult trading for some over the summer even these increases will be unwelcome. It is pretty tough times for many with cashflow expected to be challenging in coming months. It is why it is so important that we try to extend the scope of the industry so that we are less dependent on rock bottom pricing."
Polestar HR director Simon Jones said that the rise would have no direct impact on staff at the firm, as none were on the minimum wage, but that it would impact across the wider industry particularly those printers using agency staff. "It depends really on how many agency staff people use and for how long. It’s bound to have an impact. The difficulty everyone will have is that again it is an increased cost in a difficult time. Will it be a huge hit? No it won’t be."
Mercury Search and Selection managing director Dani Novick echoed Jones' saying the increase was insignificant for the print industry. "There are very few jobs within the industry at minimum wage level and for those that are the increase is less than 2%. With regard to apprentices the numbers with a workforce are relatively small and we are talking about less than £2 per week."
She added: "Looking at the wider picture there were certain sectors and roles across the industry which looked overpaid and many of this have come into line over the last couple of years. Whilst it may not have been particularly palatable for those concerned it has been an overdue adjustment."
But managing director of Mercian Labels Adrian Steele said the minimum wage distorted fair competition in the marketplace by imposing a minimum costs base for businesses, regardless of their location and supply and demand of labour.
He added: "I would rather it be abolished, along with so many other burdensome regulations associated with employing people. This would quicken the return to a more competitive and growing economy in the UK."