Following our piece on tips in the last issue, The Independent launched a campaign on the same issue. They didn’t credit either us or the trades unions, which have been campaigning on the issue much longer.
This newspaper campaign seems to have had some effect, however. “Government insiders” now claim they will address the issue in the autumn. More significantly, a prominent “Old” Labour figure has admitted delivering restaurant workers into the hands of their exploiters when drafting minimum wage legislation in 1997.
Ian McCartney, ex-trades union official and token ex-prole in the government, admitted that he sold out workers to ensure the agreement of bosses to the minimum wage. While this ex-waiter banned the use of cash tips to top up the minimum wage, he agreed to a legal loophole allowing catering bosses to use “service charges” for the same purpose.
In spite of the massive “electoral mandate” enjoyed by his government, he was more committed to getting the agreement of bosses than he was to helping vulnerable workers. In the end, lobbying by the “catering industry” counted for more than votes. Democracy in a nutshell!