Well, everyone wonders about MPs at times. Where do they find them? How on earth does anyone end up voting for them? You know, the basic questions that anyone would ask when actually confronted with a few specimens of the beast. And then there are those specific specimens that really puzzle us. To take this from Siobhan McDonagh MP. She tweeted out the letter she had sent to Azzurri, the owners of the Zizzi chain of restaurants.
They have just announced that their workers will no longer get a freebie choice of meal during a shift, it will all be much more limited and they might even have to pay some nominal sum towards their food. At which point our MP asks:
"I would like to enquire as to why you have felt it necessary to cut back your staff's perks and pay,....."
To which we can say at least one thing is right there. Perks are indeed pay, they're part of the total compensation for performing a particular job. And as Adam Smith pointed out the wages for jobs of a certain level are going to be pretty much the same. Total compensation that is will be much the same. Noisy or smelly work will get higher wages, pleasant and cheerful work lower, the various conditions all balancing out.
But knowing that also tells us what is wrong with that question. Because of course George Osborne has just increased the wages of all of those waiters and staff. And so their perks are being cut so as to try and leave total compensation unchanged.
We are not seeing a cut to pay and perks at all. We're seeing a cut to perks as a result of an increase in pay.
And how else does anyone think it will be? There is a certain value to the employer of employing those staff. That does not change because the Chancellor says those staff should get more money. Thus the non-cash elements of their compensation are going to fall. And the intention at least of those employers will be that total compensation will be entirely unchanged. Making that insistence upon higher cash wages something not really all that worth doing.