The wages provisions in the new regulations superseded the 1940 wage regulations1 and provided for the stabilisation of rates of wages and remuneration at November 1942 levels. Only if prices moved 2 ½ per cent above their December 1942 level would this stabilisation of wages be varied. The keystone of the whole scheme was the special Wartime Prices Index which was to record price changes. It had been a masterpiece of compromise, narrow enough in its coverage of goods and services to make it capable of being kept steady by price control, subsidies and resistance to cost increases, but at the same time covering a sufficient range of consumer goods and services to be acceptable to the workers2 as a measure of their cost of living, and hence of the level at which it was equitable to stabilise the economy.
1 That is, the Economic Stabilisation Emergency Regulations 1942 superseded the Rates of Wages Emergency Regulations 1940.
2 And to other groups.
3 Sections 38 and 39.
Under the new regulations, control over actual or ruling wage and salary rates was intended to be just as rigid as the control over award rates. The regulations even went so far as to provide that ‘In any case where the basic rate of remuneration exceeds the rate of remuneration that was actually paid as on the 15th day of November 1942, the Court of Arbitration, on application made by or on behalf of the Director, may in its discretion, having regard to the general purpose of these regulations, make an order reducing the basic rate of remuneration to a rate not less than the rate so paid as on the said 15th day of November, 1942.’1
Thus the rates of remuneration in November 1942 became the stabilised wage and salary rates, and were referred to as the basic rates. These basic rates were not to be exceeded without approval, and for this purpose Wages Commissioners were appointed. The Commissioners could approve increases only where there were additional duties or risks, where there were anomalies at the base date, or as a result of a subsequent decision of the Court.2
1 Section 32, 5. The Director was the Director of Stabilisation.
2 Appeals against the decisions of Wages Commissioners could be made to the Court of Arbitration.