Tag Archives: low-paid

Tories create sweatshop Britain with zero-hours increase and immigration cut

Sports Direct was roundly criticised for its use of zero-hours contracts. Employers often plead poverty but aren’t these chains big enough to provide proper jobs?

It seems the Tories have succeeded in their long-term plan to ensure that working people are forever living in fear, by making their employment so insecure, and the benefit system so draconian, that they must take any work they are offered, no matter how low-paid.

This seems to be the fact at the heart of this week’s revelations that, although employment figures remain high, the number of people on zero-hours contracts – and therefore unsure that they will be needed for work, let alone paid, is at an all-time high.

It seems 970,000 people are now on zero-hour contracts – that’s an increase of 74,000 in just three months.

They don’t get sick pay or holiday pay.

They can never be sure they will be able to feed their children or pay the bills.

And they can’t just sign onto benefits in between bouts of work because there’s a five-week wait for Universal Credit and any work done may disqualify them.

Peter Stefanovic lays it all out here:

And now we learn that “low-skilled” (by which I think she means “low-paid”) immigrants will be banned from entering the UK by Home Secretary Priti Patel.

This means working people already resident in the UK will be expected to take up the slack, taking part in seasonal work like picking fruit and vegetables and being cast aside after that work is done.

Ms Patel reckons the UK’s eigh million “economically inactive” people can be pressganged into doing this work.

Both statistics quoted by Donwyn here are more or less correct.

But “economically inactive” doesn’t mean “unemployed and seeking work“, and that’s an important difference.

These are people who don’t need to work – so why should they lift a finger to fill gaps in the employment market now?

Of course, employers may find that there simply aren’t enough “low-skilled” workers to go around, on the low pay that they offer.

The excuse for low pay has always been that it was all the employers could afford.

If they start going out of business, I suppose we’ll know the truth of it.

Personally, I think working people will be expected to take on two or three jobs at a time in order to make ends meet.

It’s the ‘sweatshop Britain’ that Margaret Thatcher always wanted.

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Why is it fair for taxpayers to subsidise businesses but not the disabled?

Swivel-eyed loon: This is the kind of many who thinks subsidising businesses to be lazy, while refusing to support disabled students (no matter how intelligent they are) is a clever idea. [Picture: Left Foot Forward]

Swivel-eyed loon: This is the kind of many who thinks subsidising businesses to be lazy, while refusing to support disabled students (no matter how intelligent they are) is a clever idea. [Picture: Left Foot Forward]

George Osborne was today set to attack both the Labour Party and UKIP as being bad for business. Isn’t that a bit rich, coming from a man whose party uses taxpayers’ money to subsidise private firms?

Across the UK, firms of all sizes – ranging from huge multinationals right down to the smallest traders – take advantage of the taxpayer-funded benefit system that supports people who earn less than the Living Wage (the minimum amount necessary for a working person to be able to pay their own way).

Osborne would have you believe this is good for Britain; more firms are employing more people – and that’s got to be good, right?

Wrong. More people may be employed, but on increasingly less money, meaning the burden on the taxpayer is increasing all the time.

But the taxpayer has increasingly less money to give to the Treasury, meaning that – instead of saving the economy – Osborne has put us into a vicious spiral of diminishing returns.

That’s what you get when you ask a towel-folder to do a real job!

It would be far better to demand that businesses pay the Living Wage. It isn’t an impossible dream – only a few decades ago, it was possible for one parent to earn enough to house and feed an entire family. Why doesn’t this happen anymore?

There is, in fact, no reason for it to have stopped.

The only conclusion we can reach is that the Tory government is using the system to leach money into the pockets of wealthy businesspeople. By pushing benefit payments so low that the unemployed and low-paid struggle to support themselves, they have made it possible for employers to pay less and pocket more.

That is why the names on the Sunday Times Roll Call of Shame (otherwise known as the Rich List) are so much richer this year than they were before the Tories weren’t elected.

The answer is simple: Compel businesses to pay the Living Wage.

Oh, but you think that will be bad for business too, do you?

Mr Osborne would tell you so, would he?

How odd – because this would be no different from a policy his government has been happily forcing on benefit claimants since 2010.

You see, as stated above, the policy has been to make living on benefits extremely difficult in order to force people to seek employment. This in turn allows firms to depress wages because they can tell the workforce there are plenty of other people waiting to take their places.

Only today, on this blog, we were discussing Tory David Willetts’ plan to cut Disabled Student Allowance. He wants us to believe that this will get students with disabilities to work harder, rather than expecting the taxpayer to lay everything at their feet; in fact, he is taking away their lifeline and leaving them to starve.

But the argument works just as well with employers. Any government with the guts to tell them that the crutch of in-work benefits is being removed and they will have to pay the difference is sending out the same message to employers as they did to benefit claimants: You’ve had it easy for too long. Now it’s time for you to earn your keep.

Some firms will go under. Unlike the disabled people being victimised by David Willetts (et al), we should shed no tears for them; they weren’t helping the economy.

More will pay up – finding new markets to fund the extra expenditure. These are the businesses that will build the real economic recovery.

Labour is one of only a few political organisations that support the Living Wage, and therefore the only mass-appeal political party that would have a genuinely beneficial effect on the economy.

Oh, but I forgot.

You were listening to George Osborne.

And he says Labour is bad for business.

But then – he’s no economist.

He’s a towel-folder.

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The Coalition is creating serious problems and distracting you with phantoms


According to the beauty industry, women must now start deodorising under their breasts.

I kid you not – it was in The Guardian.

Columnist Jill Filipovic hit the nail on the head when she wrote: “I can already hear your objections: ‘But the area under my boobs doesn’t stink!’ or ‘What kind of marketing genius not only came up with the term “swoob,” but actually thought half the world’s population might be dumb enough to buy into it?’ or simply, ‘This is a dumb product aimed at inventing an insecurity and then claiming to cure it.’

“You would be correct on all three points.

“In fact, inventing problems with women’s bodies and then offering a cure – if you pay up – is the primary purpose of the multi-billion dollar beauty industry.”

The simple fact is that you don’t really need to worry about smells down there – a good old soapy flannel will cure any such problems.

That’s not the point, though. The aim is to get you thinking about it and devoting your energy to it, rather than to other matters.

Now let’s translate that to politics.

We already know that all the scaremongering about Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants storming the country from January 1 was a crock. That bastion of good statistics, The Now Show, told us last week that the total number of Bulgarian immigrants in the last couple of weeks was “around two dozen so far”, according to their ambassador. In the first three months after our borders were opened to Croatians, 174 turned up.

Yet the government wanted you to believe they would flood our immigration service in their millions, “taking benefits and yet simultaneously also taking all the jobs”.

My use of language such as “storming” and “flood” is not accidental. By far the more serious threat to the UK in the early days of 2014 was the weather – and, guess what, not only was the government unprepared for the ferocity of the storms that swept our islands, the Coalition was in fact in the process of cutting funding for flood defence.

This would have gone unnoticed if the weather had behaved itself, because we would all have been distracted by the single Romanian immigrant who was ensnared by Keith Vaz in a ring of TV cameras at Heathrow Airport.

Now the Tories are telling us that our take-home pay is finally on the rise for all but the top 10 per cent of earners, with the rest of us seeing our wages rise by at least 2.5 per cent.

The government made its claims (up) by taking into account only cuts to income tax and national insurance, using data leading up to April last year, according to the BBC News website.

This kind of nonsense is easily overcome – New Statesman published the above chart, showing the real effect of changes to weekly income for people in various income groups, and also provided the reason for the government’s mistake (if that’s what it was).

“The data used … takes no account of the large benefit cuts introduced by the coalition, such as the real-terms cut in child benefit, the uprating of benefits in line with CPI inflation rather than RPI, and the cuts to tax credits,” writes the Statesman‘s George Eaton.”

He also pointed out that other major cuts such as the bedroom tax, the benefit cap, and the 10 per cent cut in council tax support were introduced after April 2013 and were not included in the Coalition figures.

Once all tax and benefit changes are taken into account, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown that almost all families are worse off – and the Coalition also appears to have forgotten the five million low-paid workers who don’t earn enough to benefit from the increase in the personal allowance.

Skills and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock compounded the mistake in an exchange on Twitter with Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). Asked why his analysis “ignores more than four million people in work (the self-employed)”, Mr Hancock tweeted: “Analysis based on ONS ASHE survey of household earnings data”.

Wrong – as Mr Portes was quick to show: “Don’t you know the difference between household and individual earnings?”

Apparently not. ASHE (Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings) is a survey of employed individuals using their National Insurance numbers – not of households or the self-employed.

So the Coalition – and particularly the Tories – were trying to make us all feel good about the amount we earn.

That’s the distraction. What are we supposed to be ignoring?

Would it be David Cameron’s attempt to bribe councils into allowing shale gas companies to frack their land? Councils that back fracking will get to keep all the business rates collected from the schemes – rather than the usual 50 per cent.

He has also claimed that fracking can boost the economy and encourage businesses into the country, in a further bid to talk down dissent.

Or is it the growing threat of a rise in interest rates, which may be triggered when official unemployment figures – which have been fiddled by increased sanctions on jobseekers, rigged reassessments of benefit claimants, a new scheme to increase the number of people and time spent on Workfare, and the fake economic upturn created by George Osborne’s housing bubble – drop to seven per cent?

It seems possible that the government – especially the Tory part of it – would want to keep people from considering the implications of an interest rate rise that is based on false figures.

As Vox Political commenter Jonathan Wilson wrote yesterday: “If the BOE bases its decisions on incorrect manipulated data that presents a false ‘good news’ analysis then potentially it could do something based on it that would have catastrophic consequences.

“For example if its unemployment rate test is reached, and wages were going up by X per cent against a Y per cent inflation rate which predicted that an interest rate rise of Z per cent would have no general effect and not impact on house prices nor significantly increase repossessions (when X per cent is over-inflated by the top 1 per cent of earners, Y per cent is unrealistically low due to, say, the 50 quid green reduction and/or shops massively discounting to inflate purchases/turnover and not profit) and when it does, instead of tapping on the breaks lightly it slams the gears into reverse while still traveling forward… repossessions go up hugely, house prices suffer a major downward re-evaluation (due to tens of thousands of repossessions hitting the auction rooms) debt rates hit the roof, people stop buying white goods and make do with last year’s iPad/phone/tv/sofa, major retail goes tits up, Amazon goes to the wall, the delivery market and post collapses… etc etc.

“And all because the government fiddled the figures.”

Perhaps Mr Cameron doesn’t want us thinking about that when we could be deodorising our breasts instead.

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Survey boosts ‘divide and rule’ agenda – and hate crime

“I don’t know if anyone’s listened to the news/checked the papers today, but I’m sickened (although not surprised) the Tories are stepping up their hatred campaign against immigrants and the unemployed, by publishing exaggerated and out-of-context statistical reports. All they’re doing is fuelling racism and lack of compassion to get small minded people to support their agenda. Outrageous.”

That was the response of Alex – a very non-political friend of mine – to the data from NatCen Social Research today, that claimed people want to see less spending on welfare and benefits, and fewer immigrants.

The BBC’s report had NatCen’s chief executive Penny Young, who wrote the report, saying the public’s view on welfare was “in tune… with the coalition’s policies”.

Not according to Alex, sister!

He reckons Ms Young is part of a Coalition government agenda to brainwash us all into agreeing with schemes that are, even if only on the face of it, evil. And so do I. Who funded this survey?

Here’s a thing you might not have picked up in all the reporting: You may have noticed that Ms Young says, “For the first time since 2008, we’ve seen that the number of people who are prepared to see more money go on disability benefits has actually fallen.”

But that has never been part of anybody’s plans – Labour, the Tories, the Liberal Democrats or the smaller parties (to my knowledge). The problem is that the Coalition is cutting the amount of money being spent on disability – and other – benefits. Massively.

In doing so, it has created a new target for hate crime and a new underclass for society, presumably as a huge distraction from the real problem faced by the country – the Coalition’s mismanagement of the world’s seventh-largest economy.

There is plenty of money here, enough to help all those with illnesses and disabilities, feed all the children (see yesterday’s blog entry), and even to invest in new businesses and jobs. But it is being held by wealthy people – mostly in offshore bank accounts – and the Coalition is doing nothing to free it from their grasp.

Perhaps people think cutting the welfare benefit bill will lead to a cut in taxes. Think again, people! Even on the face of it – by which I mean according to what they’ve told us – the Coalition needs the money to pay down the deficit and cut back the national debt. What they’re really doing is anybody’s guess, but slashing the livelihood of the disabled will not save you one penny in tax.

And let’s take a moment to remember this important fact, posted on Facebook by Adele (not the singer): Welfare isn’t just about people on the dole. It’s about people in low-paid jobs, people who are carers, people who are too sick or disabled to work, people with cancer and people who have lost their jobs and cannot get another. It is a safety net for those who are disadvantaged in our society. Everyone falls on hard times and just when it may happen to you and you need that safety net, you would want it to be there to catch you.”

Also attacked in the report are immigrants, with three-quarters of the 3,000+ people asked saying they wanted to see a reduction in the number of those coming into the country.

This survey looks like it was written by the editor of the Daily Mail.

The fact that it also suggests people don’t want any more cuts in public spending is meaningless, compared to the damage it inflicts with what I’ve reported above.

I predict a greater increase in hate crime against immigrants and the disabled because – and this is what the perpetrators will say – “It’s what people want, innit?”

Is it?

Over to you.