Bleak prospects for workers

by Daphne Liddle

THE WORKING class in Britain faces an unending prospect of more unemployment, more cuts and more poverty as Chancellor George Osborne’s economic strategy of relentless austerity continues to crush any hope of economic revival and the Government’s debt problems go from bad to worse.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) now thinks the austerity measures will have to continue until 2018 — though it is doubtful the current government will remain in power that long — because the Treasury will have to find another £11 billion from tax rises or spending cuts if the economy does not improve.

And we can guess which option he will choose. Osborne’s decisions have already made the top one per cent very much wealthier through tax cuts while the rest of us have seen our incomes plummet.

And new cuts of around £8 billion already in the pipeline are likely to reduce the income of low paid workers by a further 30 per cent. Many will end up completely destitute.

There seems little likelihood of any industrial growth in the near future.

Last Friday Tata Steel announced 900 jobs cuts, rounding off a week of what the TUC called “jobs carnage” across Britain that has seen a series of employers make announcements that have put approximately 20,000 jobs at risk.

The announcements point to a country on the precipice of a triple dip recession and waning private sector confidence, because of the Government’s bungling handling of the economy, warned the giant union Unite.

The past seven days has seen:

It is hardly surprising that the Government’s welfare-to-work programme has proved a dismal failure. Private companies have been given vast sums of taxpayers’ money to bully and cajole the unemployed and the disabled into finding permanent work.

But the dismal, very low-paid jobs that these people are pressured into accepting are all short-term and precarious.

After months of being badgered, bullied and humiliated by these private companies, fewer than the low target of 5.5 per cent of those who have been through the programme were able to get permanent work — about the same figure as would have happened if these programmes had never existed. That is because the programmes do not and cannot create jobs. They may pressure a person into getting a job but that means leaves a whole queue of other candidates for that job still claiming benefit.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The dismal failure of the Work Programme in its first year is highlighted by the fact that only 3.5 per cent of those placed in work were still in employment after six months — below the target figure of 5.5 per cent.

"The Government may try to spin this as good news, but George Osborne's disastrous handling of the economy, combined with the failing Work Programme is seeing long-term unemployment rising to levels not seen since the 1990s.

“These figures are compounded by the coalition's onslaught on benefits, which is creating a climate of poverty and desperation among those seeking work. People want to work, but increasingly face a merry-go-round of insecure, low-paid, part-time work.”

The public sector union Unison warned that the coming cuts will see more than 750,000 public sector workers lose their jobs by the end of this Parliament, with a devastating knock-on impact on the private sector.