Many people complain about the minimum wage, but what would workers do if the bosses, without a minimum wage, gave 1 penny?A boss could give a penny for one's labor, then what would an individula...

Many people complain about the minimum wage, but what would workers do if the bosses, without a minimum wage, gave 1 penny?

A boss could give a penny for one's labor, then what would an individula do if there was no minumum wage?

Asked on by rtyuigh

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akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that much of an answer to this question might have to revolve around how we feel individuals react to injustice.  I will address it from the workers' point of view, as the previous post did a nice job addressing it from the managerial one.  If one believes that workers can display collectivity as a voice, then the response to exploitation of labor would be to display solidarity against such abuse.  In this vein, workers could pursue dialogue with management to rectify such affairs or protest, demanding change to this economic state of being.  Marx would argue that a vanguard, or enlightened group, of workers would lead a movement which would demand a change in the ownership of the means of production.  This change could be through force or through sheer numbers, for when management sees the collective force of workers in their magnitude, the belief is that they will have no choice but to acquiesce.  On the other hand, if one does not believe in collectivity, then the argument would be that individual workers will make do with anything, including a penny, so long as they have more wealth than their counterparts.  The fight and struggle to material prosperity will cause them to dispel any bonds that might exist between them, and allow them to take any compensation, albeit unfair and exploitative, that management would throw upon them.

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Yes, it is quite possible that, in absence of any legal restriction on minimum wages, some employees will pay very low wages to their employees. But I don't believe that employees will ever be able to reduce the wages to as low as 1 penny per hour. There are several reasons why the wages cannot fall to such low levels.

Most important, the employees will not be able to get any workers willing to work below a certain minimum wage determined by market forces. Also, when the wages are very low the quality of workers they get will be low.

Also, enlightened employers and managers realize that it is more profitable for them to pay their employees well as it enables then to motivate workers to give higher productivity, that more than compensates for higher wages.

Even if there is no legal provision for minimum wages, collective bargaining through trade unions enable employers to negotiate for better wages.

In spite of all these things, it is quite certain that in absence of legal provisions for minimum wages some people will find their earnings reduced significantly.

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