There is a strange mix between being an employee and self-employed.
You aren’t entitled to any holiday or sick pay, as you are not an employee of any of the companies you work for.
At the same time your “primary sponsor” has to approve any work for other firms you want to do.
And if you find work for a close rival firm some bosses will reject the request to work for them, even if they don’t have work for you.
That leaves you unemployed that week but not entitled to any unemployment benefits.
Another scheme a lot of companies use is paying workers through an “umbrella company”.
This means being paid by a company supposedly separate from the one you worked for.
But it is often registered at the same address and has the same owner, or is owned by a close relative of theirs.
While being paid through those companies you must pay both employers’ and employees’ national insurance—around 25 percent of your wage.
Plus you must pay income tax and a fee to receive the money you earned.
The current system of not being properly employed by anyone makes it very hard to take a holiday as you receive no money.
On many occasions I have had to work while sick, even with food poisoning. I was vomiting while digging out sleepers as I couldn’t afford the time off without any sick pay. If you are injured and physically cannot work you get left no income whatsoever.
Yet these companies decide who you can and cannot work for. And if they offer you work when you have already found work which is closer or higher paid you must ditch the better job.
Zakk Davies, by email
We’ll fight for justice over contaminated blood
On behalf of the whole contaminated blood community I wish to say thank you for Socialist Worker’s heartfelt and supportive coverage of our campaign.
Campaign groups were dismayed at the Department of Health (DoH) last week. They set up a meeting at short notice and only extended invitations to a select few.
Campaign groups have been in dialogue with DoH for decades without results.
We have all come together as an act of solidarity to impress on the DoH that we will not converse with them.
But we are eager to play a fully inclusive and active role in the forthcoming inquiry in the search of truth, justice and closure.
Jackie Britton and the campaigning community, by email
We have waited for this inquiry in the UK for decades #contaminatedblood. In that time we have lost so many victims. We deserve the truth.
Graham Manning, on Twitter
lMy grandfather died of cancer of the liver due to infected blood from Germany.
He was told what would happen, he died in the 1970s.
Sharza Dethick, on Twitter
The Tories have a knack of losing, deleting or just plain old suppressing anything that will reveal the evil at the heart of the party!
Leslie Bridges, on Facebook
Misconduct charge for freedom ride cop
South Yorkshire Freedom Riders show that you are never too old to fight back and protest.
We have been campaigning for over three years for the return of concessionary local free train travel in South Yorkshire for elderly bus pass holders.
Councils axed the free travel for older and disabled people in 2014.
In June 2014 two of us, myself and Tony Nuttall, were arrested by British Transport Police while we were protesting on Sheffield station. All of the charges against us were eventually dropped some months later.
Now the officer who led the attack on us is facing a gross misconduct hearing in York on Monday 31 July.
Freedom Riders are going to lobby outside the hearing from 9.30am and are working with York trades council to have a rally in St Sampson Square.
Send messages of support to email@example.com
George Arthur, Barnsley
Could a new currency help save the planet?
Thank you very much for your commitment to a better world.
I deeply agree with Ian Angus (Socialist Worker, 19 July) when he says, “We have to recognise that without a fairly radical shift in the underlying nature of the economy there will not be solutions.”
I think humankind can become both socialist and environmentally sustainable by using a new kind of “money”.
This new currency would be indexed to the biomass of the land and would be paid to people to encourage growing biomass.
It would help tackle climate change, preserve biodiversity and the major balances, feed people and create jobs.
The famous ecologist John D Liu said, “Economics is driving today’s problems. We are creating poverty and degradation of the landscapes.
“This must change.”
Hélène Nivoix, Pelousey, France
Let’s support assisted dying
In the late 1980s I was a student of Noel Conway, who now has motor neurone disease.
Noel started legal action last week to be allowed to choose a peaceful and dignified death, and to avoid the appalling possibility of falling into “locked-in syndrome”.
He has the support of Dignity in Dying.
His case is a reminder, I think, that socialists should support assisted dying, as long as it is accompanied by the necessary legal safeguards, especially against abuse by the state.
Mark Brown, Glasgow
Is Russia 1917 relevant now?
There are no peasants where the material premises for building socialism are present (Bread, Peace and Land connected peasants with workers in the Russian Revolution).
So it’s not clear what socialists in developed capitalist countries can meaningfully learn from studying the post-1917 Soviet experience.
John Marot, on Facebook
How to deal with zombies
Apparently a bullet to the head kills zombies (End the zombie regime, 19 July). Seems fair.
Patrick Cooper, on Facebook
End the BBC poll tax now
The TV licence is, effectively, a televisional “poll tax”, helping to keep many of the Beeb’s employees on astronomical wages.
It’s the same charge whether the licence payer is destitute or a multi-millionaire.
The cost of running this “public service” should be extracted from taxes and not by intrusive adverts.
Do I really want to be shown an ad for Andrex during the BBC Proms? The only movements I want to think about during a Mendelssohn Violin Concerto are musical.
Howard Henry Smith, Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan