performing labor. Minimum wages are typically established by contract orlegislation by the government. As such, it is illegal to pay an employee less thanthe minimum wage.
On the international scene, minimum wage legislation first appeared in NewZealand in 1894 and in the Australian state of Victoria in 1896 after significant"anti-sweating" campaigns. It was subsequently introduced in Great Britain in1909, and in a number of continental European countries a few years thereafter.
The starting Point
The year 1900 saw the beginning of the Fair Wages Policy. InMarch of that year a resolution was passed by the House of Commons which weredirected against abuses arising from the sub-letting of Government Contracts. Itdeclared it to be the policy of the Government that wages generally accepted ascurrent in each trade for competent workmen in the district where the work iscarried out should be paid on all public works undertaken by the Governmentitself or aided by Government funds. The Federal Government's actions in 1900helped to gain wide acceptance of the fair wage principle.
In 1907 Ernest Aves was sent by the British Secretary of State for the HomeDepartment to investigate the results of the minimum wage laws in Australia andNew Zealand. In part as a result of his report,Winston Churchill,then president of the Board of Trade, introduced the Trade Boards Act on March 24, 1909. Itbecame law in October of that year, and went into effect in January 1910.In North America, the state of Massachusetts was the first jurisdiction to institutea minimum wage, in 1912. However, the Massachusetts legislation, which onlyapplied to women and minors working in certain industries, contained numerousexceptions and lacked an effective enforcement mechanism, relying solely onpublic opinion to pressure employers into compliance. Several other Americanstates followed suit, although the history of the minimum wage legislation in the