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(en) Britain, Catalyst #11 - Freesheet of the Solidarity Federation - International Workers Association September 2004

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 25 Aug 2004 11:28:18 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
http://ainfos.ca/ http://ainfos.ca/index24.html

Inside - flexploitation issue: Exposed - accidents at work,
Anti-casualisation Actions in Bristol, Who needs Unions?
Overwork = madness, Labour Government - Pension-snatchers
Government-funded deaths
"More (crap) Jobs than Ever"
The Labour Government repeatedly claims that there are
more people in work than ever. This year, for the first
time, there are more than 30 million in the workforce
boasted Gordon Brown recently. But sadly, theres more to it.
On the face of it, Labours record on employment is good.

According to the International
Labour Organisation, unemployment
in Britain stands at 4.8%, not
bad when compared with the
Eurozones 9%. But, as always with
Labour, the devil is in the detail.
For instance, the unemployment
figures do not take into account the
650,000 claiming long-term sickness
benefit. Nor are the economically
inactive (those who would like to work
but for some reason (!) feel that there are
no decent jobs to be had). The
government itself estimates that 6% of the
potential workforce currently falls into this
category. If these inactive workers
where added to the official
unemployment figures, the unemployment
rate would be in the region of 11%, and if
the long term sick were added it would be
even higher. So, we are hardly close to
the near-full employment that Labour likes
to claim.
What also has to be taken into
consideration is the type of jobs being
created by Labour. Quality is as important
as quality, yet the biggest rise in jobs has
been in part-time work. A third of all jobs
are now part-time, and this figure is set to
grow even further (last year alone, part-
time employment grew more than one and
a half times faster than full-time
Even worse, many of the jobs that
have been created under Labour are low
paid, with no prospects or long-term
security. Behind Labours spin, the British
economy increasingly resembles that of
the US, where a large underclass is
dependent on low-income, part-time jobs
to survive. The US experience has shown
that, come recession time, it is the part-
time jobs that are first to go, leaving a
large sector of the workforce dependent
on welfare (in many cases in the form of
food vouchers).
Not surprisingly, this flexible hire and
fire economy suits those companies who
take on workers in boom time and get rid
during recession. Crucial to the hire and
fire economy is the welfare system. US
welfare pays the bare minimum, with
welfare payments being withdrawn if work
is refused. Consequently, welfare is used
to force the poor into terrible minimum-
wage (or worse) part-time, casual jobs in
order to survive. The system ensures
they are so desperate that they will take
any job that comes along. With little or no
job protection, these workers can be
discarded at will, and thrown back onto
welfare until such time as they are needed
It is this US-style welfare system that
the Labour Government is trying to create
in Britain. The value of unemployment
benefit is being reduced in real terms,
while a whole new load of benefits have
been introduced for those willing to take
on low-paid jobs. If this doesnt coax/
force people to take these (crap) new job
the backup is to threaten to end benefit
altogether if people refuse to take a job.
What we are seeing in Britain is not
the end of Thatcherite mass
unemployment, but the creation of a semi
employed underclass, languishing
somewhere between employment and
welfare - a pool of casualised workers wh
can be utilised or discarded at will by
employers. This is the true reality of
Labour s much-vaunted flexible labour
The inevitable result
of Labours flexible
labour market is
more poverty and
more dangerous
working conditions -
see health and
safety features and
focus on accidents
at work inside...

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