Tuesday, 11 January 2011

What Cameron's "pro-jobs agenda" means for the working class

The Government has just unveiled its "employers' charter," as part of what David Cameron called "the most pro-business, pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda ever unleashed by a government." None of which should come as a surprise to most. But nor should what it represents go unchallenged.

According to the Telegraph, proposals in the charter include "extend[ing] the qualifying period for unfair dismissal from one year of full time employment to two," and introduce "a fee to bring employment tribunal cases." At the same time, "the length of time that firms have to pay workers statutory sick pay is set to be reduced." Supposedly, this will remove "red tape" which only serves as a "barrier to jobs growth," and encourage companies to hire more people.

The reality is that this move has been deliberately calculated to expand and accelerate the casualisation of work. These moves by the government will indeed encourage companies to hire more people, but it will encourage them to do so on a short term and irregular basis.

People hired and fired within the space of two years will not be able to accumulate benefits that often come with long-term, stable employment, such as pensions, increasing wages, sick pay, etc. This makes them cheaper. The pressures of maintaining an income when they lack job security also makes them more agreeable and less prone to annoyances like organising for better pay and conditions. Ultimately, we gain a submissive workforce, in constant fear of where its next paycheck will come from, and a boss class free to exploit that cheap, casual labour for profit without the worry that the working class might stand up for itself.

From the point of view of those with capital, it's an extremely positive development. From the point of view of the other 90+ % of society, it's the sign of a much steeper incline in the race to the bottom.