Tag Archives: Byrne

Turncoat Tories who clapped key workers are now planning to stab them in the back

Here’s a relatively new buzzphrase for you: “Fire and re-hire.”

It has become the latest fashion among big corporations in the UK, with multiple strikes taking place over recent weeks as unions have done their best to protest this despicable practice.

The aim is to fire workers, then hire them back immediately – at a lower rate of pay (and possibly with fewer in-work benefits as well).

This means bosses have more cash to pass around among themselves and shareholders – and there’s the added bonus of causing unnecessary unpleasantness to the people who actually generate the profits that these parasites enjoy.

This week, Conservative MPs had a chance to support a Parliamentary motion stating that “fire and re-hire” should be banned. They didn’t even turn up.

Labour has been all over this.

I dare say every Labour MP with a Twitter account has put up something similar.

The Tory press was more interested in hounding Labour’s Ian Byrne for joining a picket line to stop British Gas from using these despicable ‘fire and rehire’ practices.

Here’s Mr Byrne to say what he’s been up to:

Tory rags attacked Byrne for travelling 42 miles to Stockport during lockdown.

They omitted mention of the fact that he was well within his rights as the travel was related to his job, and he was perfectly entitled to do it.

Also, of course, Boris Johnson had travelled to another country, and the Tory rags didn’t utter a whisper about that!

I think Rachael is right. So is Karie:

The TUC has published an article pointing out that “fire and re-hire” is the diametric opposite of Boris Johnson’s claim that he intends to “level up” the UK – as it levels-down workers’ pay and living standards.

The threat of fire-and-rehire, when workers are dismissed and told to reapply for their roles on inferior terms, has been used in sectors from aviation to hospitality in recent months.

And workers at British Gas are currently taking industrial action against an attempt by bosses to unilaterally cut their pay and conditions.

A poll published by the TUC today reveals that nearly one in 10 (9%) workers have been told to re-apply for their jobs on worse terms and conditions since the first lockdown in March.

Nearly a fifth of 18-24 year-olds say their employer has tried to re-hire them on inferior terms during the pandemic.

And twice as many black and minority ethnic (BME) workers (15%) have been faced with “fire and rehire” as white workers (8%)

The Tories – absent from the vote to support banning the practice – were probably instead plotting ways to water down workers’ rights even further.

After Brexit, the Tory government has an opportunity to inflict huge harm on the people who power the national economy. Kwasi Kwarteng may be denying it but if that wasn’t the plan, where were they during the “fire and re-hire” vote?

Bizarrely, the Tories have been helped in this plan by British voters.

British voters voted to leave the European Union.

And British voters voted to give Boris Johnson a Parliamentary majority of 80 seats, to make sure that he would be able to give employers carte blanche to steal pay from the hands of their employees.

Ask these British voters who they would support in a future election and I’m willing to bet that most of them would say they’d support the Tories again.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.


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What William Beveridge might have really wanted for the modern welfare state

Those of you who were kind enough to read yesterday’s blog entry will know that I was disgusted with Liam Byrne, the shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, after he wrote an article for The Guardian that marked him (in my opinion) as a closet Tory. Or at least a collaborator. If you haven’t read that article, please feel free to go back and explore my arguments.

Having said all that I realise that some of you might feel justified in asking what sort of article I would have written in his place, given the chance. This is your chance to find out because that’s exactly what I’ve done. I’ve kept the same headline and intro paragraph, and some other material including the final paragraph are as Mr Byrne wrote them, but the rest is what I think he should have been saying.

I wonder if you’ll agree with me?

A William Beveridge for this century’s welfare state

Labour won’t win on welfare reform by default. On jobs and benefits we need another tough-minded social revolution.

If William Beveridge could see what has happened to his great plans for the future, he would be spinning in his grave.

I do not suggest this because his once-great political party has entered into an atrocious marriage-of-convenience with their once-bitter rivals, the Conservatives.

No, the reason I believe the great statesman’s body may be, even now, drilling its way to subterranean parts unknown is the terrible fate to which this coalition has Con-Dem’ned his ‘social insurance’ scheme – which you and I now call The Welfare State.

Beveridge argued that this system would provide a minimum standard of living “below which no-one should be allowed to fall”. It recommended that the government should find ways of fighting the five ‘Giant Evils’ of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness. He included as one of his fundamental assumptions the fact that there would be a National Health Service of some sort, a policy already being developed by the Ministry of Health.

He saw full employment (defined as unemployment of no more than three per cent) as the pivot of his social welfare programme. Measures for achieving it included Keynesian-style fiscal regulation.

It took a Labour government to make this a reality, after the Cons called for the Beveridge report to be trimmed and delayed, and the Coalition’s plan to privatise the NHS in all but name, and its obstinate determination to avoid the wisdom of Keynes’ fiscal policy might be enough reason to believe that, 70 years after his famous report, his ideas have been ground beneath the heel of contempt.

Worst of all is the way his system is being abused in order to victimise the unemployed, the sick and the disabled. If Mr Beveridge were alive today, I am sure that this fact alone would kill him!

Beveridge’s system was built on the idea of full employment, so he would have been horrified at the long-term unemployment breaking out all over Britain. This is why the country needs Keynesian-style investment in new industry, creating new jobs. This would help eliminate Idleness, one of his five Giant Evils; guarantees that these jobs would pay a decent, living wage (and not just the bare minimum) would eliminate Want as well. Let’s not forget that the Credit Crunch, that led to the current huge national deficit, was caused by people whose wages couldn’t pay their costs, borrowing in order to make ends meet – and then finding they could not pay back their unsecured loans!

Beveridge would have been appalled at the spiralling cost of benefits, knowing as he did that investment in industry would bring those costs down. A larger, well-paid workforce means fewer people on benefits, and more taxes paid to support those who must rely on the State – such as the long-term sick and the disabled.

Contrast this with the current situation. The Coalition’s suicidal fixation with austerity has starved the UK of business investment to the point that more than 20 people are chasing every single available job. As a result, the benefits bill is much higher than the Treasury can comfortably accommodate, and it’s likely to increase!

And what is this government’s solution? It intends to limit housing benefit, so that any individual who cannot afford the rent for their residence will be slung out on their ear. It intends to time-limit unemployment benefits and has already begun offering inappropriate jobs to claimants – the classic is driving jobs for those without licences, in order to clear them off the books for a while. And it has employed Atos, an IT corporation, to carry out assessments of disability claimants using a tick-box questionnaire, instead of employing medical experts. It’s well-known that this company is under orders to get as many claimants as possible off the books and there is a wealth of evidence that shows this has led to a shocking amount of inaccuracy in the way Atos employees have filled out the forms. A survey by the Citizens Advice Bureau in Mid Wales found more than 40 per cent of those they questioned, who undertook the assessment, discovered serious errors – the answers input by the assessors were not the answers they had been given.

Labour is on the side of people who work hard and do the right thing. It is the purpose of government to provide the best conditions for this to happen. The Coalition has failed to do this on an epic scale.

But Labour won’t win on welfare reform by default. Seventy years on from Beveridge, it is time for Labour to take on this Liberal reformer’s ideas again, just as we did in the 1940s.

In rethinking the future, Beveridge’s first principles are the right place to begin.

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