A Living Wage Makes for a Good Business Plan

work and smile

Helmi Ansari started a successful business and understands what’s it like to worry about paying the bills – and knows that when you’re stressed about paying bills you’re not focussed at the job at hand. This is why he pays all of his employees a living wage. A living wage is usually higher than minimum wage (min. wage is basically your boss saying they wouldn’t pay you anything but the law says they must) and scales based on location and cost of living from year to year. Indeed, Ansari says he owes the success of his company to his committed employees.

He’s such a believer in living wage that he founded the Better Way Alliance to pressure the government and other companies to pay a living wage. The alliance has quite a few member companies already, including a business school and a brewery!

The message from this group of leaders is simple: being good is good for the bottom line.

“If our staff is focused on how they’re going to put food on the table and how they’re going to pay the hydro bill, they are not going to be really engaged in the business,” Ansari says.

His company, which employs a dozen people, became the first multi-site business in Ontario to pay a living wage — the hourly sum a worker needs to earn to support a family above the poverty line, given the actual costs of living in a specific area. Ansari pays all his Cambridge staff and contractors over $16.05 an hour, while the minimum rate for his Guelph employees is $16.50.

Ontario’s minimum wage is currently set at $11.40, a figure workers’ rights and anti-poverty activists like the Fight for $15 Coalition say is too low to keep families afloat. The Star has also profiled the impact of precarious work on issues like mental health.

Read more.

Washington D.C. Approves Living Wage Bill

Washington D.C. lawmakers approved a proposed bill that institutes a living wage for the region. This is after a loud and boisterous campaign from Walmart to keep poverty-level wages. Walmart is known for low wages, firing employees who report animal abuse, and a whole list of other criticisms. Yet, Walmart makes millions of dollars and has been known to use it’s size to influence policies in their favour so it’s good to see that D.C. stood up to this anti-people corporation.

“The question here is a living wage; it’s not whether Wal-Mart comes or stays,” said council member Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large), a lead backer of the legislation, who added that the city did not need to kowtow to threats. “We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers. Retailers need us.”

Whether or not Wal-Mart needs the District, it had spent the past three years wanting to enter the city in a way no other business had. Activists celebrated Wednesday’s vote, saying the company, which reported net income of $17 billion on sales of $470 billion in its most recent fiscal year, could afford to pay better wages. But the council action threatens to halt several developments anchored by Wal-Mart in neighborhoods long under­served.

Read more at Washington Post.

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