Socialist Worker

Cameron’s plot to drive down workers’ rights

Issue No. 2279

The Tories have unveiled a raft of fresh attacks on workers and the poor.

They aim to weaken workers’ rights, bolster the bosses and drive vulnerable people further into poverty.

Lords will debate the government’s Welfare Reform Bill this week. The bill would scrap a range of benefits and replace them with a new universal credit capped at £500 a week.

A group of bishops, who say this would push 210,000 children into severe poverty and make another 80,000 homeless, have tabled a series of amendments.

Other measures in the bill aim to drive tens of thousands of people off disability benefits.

Hours

People in work are under attack too. David Cameron wants to weaken regulations that protect workers from overwork.

The European Union working time directive guarantees a minimum number of holidays a year, paid breaks and rests.

It also limits the number of hours workers can be made to work per week to 48.

It has already been watered down in Britain through a series of “opt-outs”. Now Cameron has teamed up with German chancellor Angela Merkel to help Britain “relax” the limit on working hours.

And if workers end up overworked and sick, they could find it harder to get support.

The government has commissioned a review into the number of workers taking sick leave.

It recommends taking the power to sign sick notes away from GPs—who have “no incentive” to send patients back to work. It also wants to weaken support for people on long-term sick leave.

Finally the government has come up with a way of giving building bosses millions while pretending to take action on Britain’s housing crisis.

The government will set up a fund of £400 million for construction firms to “unblock” stalled developments.

Firms will also be allowed to build homes on public land—and only pay for the land when, and if, they sell the houses.

Council tenants will be encouraged to buy their homes—cutting the stock of council housing further.

And the government will underwrite some mortgages with public money—to protect banks from defaults.

This won’t help the millions who can’t afford mortgages.And it could lead to another government bank bailout.

The real solution is to build affordable, council housing.


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Tue 22 Nov 2011, 18:25 GMT
Issue No. 2279
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