Friday, 14 November 2014

The working persons lot

I remember when I started work being a political hot head and one of my older colleges telling me, that it doesn't matter who is in government, we'll still have to work in the morning, as a 17 year old I thought that rather uninspiring.

My father was a hard working man, first dug coal and later dug graves to buried people for a living, the later was low paid work he also was a retained fireman as well as low paid weekend jobs to pay the bills, mum worked as well with a multitude of part time work, they also were active in the community, running a youth club, being a school governor and PTA, raising money for the scouts, this list could go on.

My parents shaped my view on the world; everyone had a duty to work and pay their bills, you did your best for your family, you played an active part in your community, but more than that, they taught values,

 I remember an old tramp that visited our home a couple times a year on his travels, mum always gave him food and drink, even new socks, as a young boy I said to my mum, why do you feed a stranger when we had so little ourselves? Mum said because we have bread and cheese and the man was hungry and showed a little human kindness that you would expect from one person to another,  my mum was her brothers keeper, excepting responsibility towards another human being less fortunate then her, even for a short period.

We were fortunate that we grew up in a council property, this allowed us to have a secure upbringing, before 'the right to buy' when council estates where genuinely mixture of people our
neighbours were mechanics, shop manager, factory workers and retired people, all in work and regular families.

I left school in the first Thatchers recession, made in Downing Street, Mrs Thatcher used our country as an economic experiment, history will judge this point in our history when we throw North Sea oil revenues down the drain on welfare benefits, with a huge growth of incapacity benefit, instead of reshaping our economy so manufacturing had a larger place in our country, instead we saw economic growth in the service and financial sectors, with lower skills in our economy.

After 18 months of job schemes I finally got my job with a local company, a closed shop, but I happily joined the TGWU and to this day a proud UNITE member, Showerings were a good company, good wages, good conditions a happy company to work for, until the mid to late 1980s when an Australian chancier launched a takeover bid, causing Allied Domeq, the mother company to cut costs and the company was disposed. A good local company affected by activity in the City of London, the good news for the Australian chancier was he made a shed load of money.

Thirty years of work has seen the economy liberalised, less secure, poorer pay and less social benefits, with a bigger share of the economy going to profits whilst incomes shrink, less collective bargaining on pay with fewer smaller pay rises.

This uber liberalisation cannot be satisfied demanding zero hours contracts, the demand to reduce employment protection and companies avoiding tax, this liberalised economy demands that business owe no responsibilities to their employees.

How it's all has changed in thirty years.

I was reading the other day that 38% of those in work earned less than £7.45 an hour in this area, with large sections of young people not entering  further education, it is clear low pay and people whom
do not achieve good qualifications go hand in hand, why do our elected MPs vote (or fail to turn up to vote) to scrap the Educational Maintenance Allowance that supports young people into further education?

The prevailing mood is we have government that supports corporate business against the working person, supporting a low pay insecure employment market, underpinned by sanctions on people whom claim benefits, this government are even considering sanctioning people in part time work, if the government think they can work for longer and the person cannot find that work, they could lose tax credits, further tipping the balance against the worker.

Of course people should work for a living, as most do, our parents taught us so, we were taught responsibility, to do the right thing, we see bankers playing fast and loose with laws, with no police action against them, too many MPs with outrageous claims on expenses with too few prosecuted.

The perception of one law for one and another for the rest of us, we should demand decency in public and corporate life.

So, yes it is true, I will have to work who ever is in government, but I expect government that is decent, that reflects values that is kind to the weak and tough on those who abuse their power, what I have learnt is, the values that my parents taught me allows me to be outraged at the unfairness of our times and disgusted by those whom rig markets in the banks and the utter impotence of the authorities to prosecute wrongdoers.

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