Measures announced in Rishi Sunak’s mini-budget supposedly to help workers have been welcomed by the TUC.
The “Kickstart” program aimed at young unemployed people is a huge bonus for employers who will have a ready supply of free labour on tap.
The benefit for workers is far less clear.
Despite claims to the contrary on the part of the chancellor.
It cannot be guaranteed that jobs provided by the scheme will not just be displacing jobs that would have been available anyway were the scheme not in place.
After all, what employer wouldn’t want the state to pay as much of their wage bill as possible? While the scheme may have some rules to limit this, there will still be plenty of scope for bosses to gain.
Jobs filled by the scheme where lower wage rates apply due to the system of age bands will undermine the higher minimum wage rate that applies to the majority of the workforce.
Currently, 18 to 20 year olds get £2.72 less per hour than a worker aged 25 or over.
If reasonable assumptions about mandatory participation are correct the new scheme will be the latest example of ‘workfare’—work for your benefits schemes.
Under 25s on Universal Credit will be told to take any job in the scheme or face losing their benefits. As the DWP seeks to crank back up its punitive system of benefit sanctions this raises the real prospect of enforced labour for hundreds of thousands of young people.
Something has to be done about the huge growth in unemployment but the TUC is wrong to give Kickstart a warm welcome.
We need one minimum wage for all, an end to workfare schemes and punitive sanctions, and a shorter working week with no loss of pay to share out what work there is.
We don’t need yet another dead end youth employment scam.
Work from home can alienate
Many analysts are predicting that there is going to be a big rise in home working as a result of coronavirus.
I expect that quite a lot of workers may welcome this.
They save money on travel, and perhaps on food, and don’t have the boss physically looking over their shoulder.
I’m not so sure it’s a good thing.
At home, you will be paying for your own heat, light, accommodation and internet.
Not many firms are going to compensate you for that.
More fundamentally, there is a pressure to self-police your work and to strip away the, very limited, rights that some workers have.
And there are other limitations to working from home. Firstly it will be much harder to create collective opposition to whatever managers seek to do.
Work, even in a large company, could be just you and your immediate team and the boss on a Zoom call.
This could be a recipe for greater alienation from the social aspects of the work process and a way to step up unpaid work from employees.
It’s a big challenge to trade unions to overcome this fragmentation and individualisation.
Are there good examples of dealing with this?
And what do other socialists think about home working?
Billionaire’s obscene wealth continues to grow
Jeff Bezos recently increased his wealth by $10 billion dollars in a single day. He has done this while one in five workers furloughed in Britain are facing redundancy and a world recession looms.
Working class people have suffered because of Covid-19, but Bezos has managed to turn an unimaginable profit.
It would take 21,000 years to earn $1 billion on an average wage. Meanwhile some Amazon workers have lost their lives after being forced to work in unsafe conditions and have lost their jobs for threatening strikes.
One man has more wealth than several countries, but nurses who have saved people’s lives by risking their own have been refused a pay rise.
It is clear that we need system change more than ever.
Why are we still ignored after Grenfell?
I recently purchased a flat with a mortgage. It looked to be pretty perfect for mine and my husband’s needs.
We have been doing up the flat to our liking, and have almost finished the work.
Recently I discovered that the cladding on our block of flat means that it isn’t safe to live in.
The housing association, Clarion, is now making out that this isn’t an issue despite a report being written proving how dangerous the cladding is. I’ve been furloughed from my job at Waitrose and my husband who is legally blind is ill.
I feel like I have no energy to fight this.
I’m just so angry. This feels like a kick in the face. I’ve tried to contact my local MP and the council but have heard nothing back.
After Grenfell, you’d think the council would care more about this issue. But I really haven’t felt like my case has been supported at all.
I am so angry at the government for doing nothing to put pressure on companies when it comes to cladding. The whole thing feels like a nightmare.
Remember women’s Comintern
Thanks for a fascinating article on the 100th anniversary of the Comintern (Socialist Worker, 15 July).
It is worth noting that the Communist Women’s International was also meeting in Moscow at the same time.
The aim of the Women’s Comintern was to take socialist ideas out to working class women.
It was also to organise support for International Women’s Day as a key part of the Comintern’s project of building international socialism.
Now Labour has given in
Labour has apologised over its criticism of “whistleblowers” who spoke to the Panorama a TV programme.
There’s one main problem with this apology and subsequent payout.
If you apologise for something that means that what the “whistleblowers” said was clearly true.
This apology and payout is truly the end of the left project to transform the Labour Party from the austerity and war party it had become to a vehicle for social change
All socialists who remain in Labour are doing is maintaining the fallacy that Labour can change. They’re helping con the electorate that there is a left face to Labour.
Abergavenny, South Wales
Culture for all needs funding
Despite the treasury putting £1.7 billion into the arts, culture in Britain is in trouble.
Thousands of people will lose their jobs and galleries, theatres and music venues will be shut if more money isn’t given.
The worry is that without funding the arts will, even more so, be for only the privileged few.
We must say that culture should be for all.