Despite record profits this year, and 9% dividends to shareholders, Heinz managers are using the broad context of ‘austerity Britain’ to hold down wages below inflation, having imposed a pay freeze in 2009 because of ‘uncertainty’ about the international economy. This includes explicit comparison to the low wage settlements across the UK, including the public sector, in a convenient reversal of the government-pushed line that the public sector has it cushy compared to the private.
Wages are not set by the worker’s current occupation. They are set by the wages that worker could be earning elsewhere. By the worker’s possible alternative occupations.
This is why hairdressers earn £10 an hour in England and thruppunce ha’penny in China, because the alternative jobs that the people in England could be doing pay around £10 an hour and the alteratives in China pay spit.
So, yes, of course, if everyone elses’ wages are being held down/reduced/compressed, then so will those at a factory that is actually making profits.