Briefly identifies the different Conventions and Recommendations of the International Labour Organization pertaining to national wage policy matters. Introduces some of the issues which need study when considering the social and economic effects of minimum wages, outlining the different roles that minimum wage fixing seeks to achieve. Concludes by considering some of the broader issues relating to labour standards, low pay and competitiveness. Argues that, in a market environment where competition is based increasingly on process and product development, a low‐pay strategy concentrating on the price of labour – and not on research and development and product design and quality – will be deficient. Suggests that economic innovation and dynamism cannot be derived from making labour cheaper, but by rendering it more productive, and that, to achieve this, a national general minimum floor to wages and other terms and conditions of employment are necessary.
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