21 June 2011

What About Me? What About Truck?

A North East politician, Guy Opperman, wrote on his blog recently about the Humshaugh Village Shop.
The blogpost explains about the shop, how it is run and encourages people to vote for it in a national lottery competition.

I wrote a comment on this post but unfortunately it has not been published so I will try and remember what I said and reproduce my comments below.

I asked whether or not the politician would encourage the people of Humshaugh to introduce a Truck system to the shop. This would mean that more people could contribute to the shop, not only those who could afford to volunteer. I gave a link to G W Hilton's book about the Truck System and pointed out that Ken Clarke was the person who repealed the Truck Acts (Wages Act 1986) which would make it possible to use a Truck system.

Since the comment wasn't published, I haven't had a response. But the question is interesting. Would the minimum wage legislation prevent people being paid in truck (see section 1 and section 44) and if not, would it be moral to pay people in vouchers rather than money? What if the vouchers were redeemable at places other than the shop, such as the pub? All very interesting questions that will not get answered; not only silence from the MP but from the people of Humshaugh; as long as they have volunteers to subsidise the endeavour, there isn't an issue.
Update 29th November 2011.
The issue discussed above came to mind again when I read a report in the Guardian headed, MPs may be breaking law in offering work to unpaid interns. The question arises, is Humshaugh shop breaking the law if it is run by volunteers? Looking closely at the legislation, s44 National Minimum Wages Act 1998 volunteers are only allowed to volunteer if they do not take any "monetary payments of any description," or any "benefits in kind of any description". In other words, no truck.

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