Workers are becoming economic slaves of the rich – and it’s getting worse. (#economy #politics #welfare)

ecslavIn a poll published by The Independent on Sunday, Britons find their jobs more stressful, precarious and demanding than ever before.

The findings are indicative of a shift in work culture towards less for more for workers, and more for less for large companies and their wealthy shareholders.

The survey found that two thirds of people say the amount of work they are expected to do has grown over the past few years, and over a third say they are expected to do unpaid overtime.

One in five says they have seen at least one person sacked or made redundant without good reason.

Only one third look forward to going to work, with the rest either ambivalent or dreading it.

Twenty five percent feel there is not enough flexibility in their jobs to balance work and the rest of their life.

One in five people say that either they or someone else at their workplace has experienced insecure or irregular work that meant they did not know how much work or pay they would get from week to week. Zero-hour and unreliable contracts have spread dramatically under the coalition government, with around 1.4 million employers using them.

Two out of five people say they do not have realistic opportunities to advance in their profession or work place, and more than 8.5 million say they do not have regular opportunities to improve their skills in the workplace. Half believe they do not make full use of their skills and abilities in the workplace.

Fifty seven percent said that the gap between executive and workers’ pay is too great, which is significantly higher in Britain when compared with workers’ wages than in many other Western countries

Only one in five said their pay had kept up with the cost of living.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady told The Independent “What job we do is a big part of our identity. Yet this poll reveals that many of us work in unfair workplaces that don’t get the best out of their staff. Employers and politicians talk up the flexible labour market, but for too many it means being treated as only slightly more important than what is in the stationery cupboard.”

The Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna, said: “Under the Tory-led government we’ve seen a rising tide of insecurity, as ministers have attacked and removed workplace rights and protections, and life at work has become increasingly insecure for so many people .”

A report by accountancy firm KPMG revealed that the number of people who are paid less than the Living Wage has risen in the past year. 22 per cent of employees now earn less – an extra 147,000 people than last year.

Mike Kelly, head of Living Wage at KPMG, told the Independent “Although there are almost 1,000 organisations pledged to pay a Living Wage, far too many UK employees are stuck in the spiral of low pay.

“With the cost of living still high the squeeze on household finances remains acute, meaning that the reality for many is that they are forced to live hand to mouth. Inflation may be easing, but unless wages rise we will continue to see huge swathes of people caught between the desire to contribute to society and the inability to afford to do so.”

As workers and the poorer in society are hit hard by the government’s ‘austerity’ policies, and with many employers using it as an excuse to reduce employee benefits and conditions, the public are concerned about the ever expanding divide between rich and poor.

In a survey conducted for the Centre for Labour and Social Studies almost 50% feel the UK has become less fair since the 2010 election and that the gap between the richest and the rest of UK society is having a corrosive effect.

There is significant support for statutory maximum pay ratios to prevent company executives earning more than 65 times the salary of the lowest-paid employee in their company. It was backed by 65%, with only 16% against. This idea even won clear majority support – 57% to 26% – among those who voted Conservative in 2010.

These figures are especially striking for people who voted Liberal Democrat in 2010: a mere 6% believe the coalition co-run by their party has overseen increased fairness, with 60% thinking the opposite.

Asked whether the gap between the richest and the rest had brought about “a negative effect on British society”, almost two-thirds of those polled said it had and fewer than a quarter disagreeing. A small majority, 51%, said they felt this gap had negative effects on the economy, with 32% thinking the opposite.

The poll found strong backing for the abolition of private schools’ charitable status if the extra tax income was used to improve the education of deprived students – 55% supported this, with just 16% disagreeing.

Those who voted Conservative in 2010 backed the measure by 40% to 29%.

Steve Hart, the chair of Class, told The Guardian the poll was “a wake-up call for political parties to take the issue of fairness seriously in the runup to the next election”, saying Labour in particular should see the issue as a vote winner.” He continued “A majority of the UK public believes the gap between the rich and the poor is bad for society and the economy. It’s time for politicians to put forward how they are going to tackle widening inequality in Britain. Policies that narrow the gap between the rich and the poor have clear popular support.”

It is not surprising that the British public – even Conservative voters – are finding the policies of the current government damaging and unacceptable in a modern society.

Since coming to power, the Conservative dominated coalition has targeted the poorest and most vulnerable in society. More people than ever are paid the minimum wage and are forced to take contracts which are effectively worthless to the employee. No guaranteed hours and no guaranteed pay create instability and fear.

The government has embarked on a propaganda campaign castigating the poor and vulnerable, while at the same time attempting to deflect concerns about the billions of taxpayer’s cash that is finding its way into the pockets of the rich and ‘connected’ in our society.

We have shifted away from what was left of our society that was considered to be based on humanitarian principles, such as the provision of basic services to citizens in their time of need, to a system based on profit and private enterprise – usually costing much more than the propaganda claimed the measures would ‘save’.

The public purse has been treated like a Conservative piggy bank to dip into when they want to make sure they and their own are making the most profit from other’s misery.

Time and again we have seen the Conservatives profit from private contracts for public services and the sale of public assets – such as the grossly undervalued sale of Royal Mail which saw huge profits for city bankers – always to the detriment of the tax payer. All of this happening so blatantly right under our noses.

On top of this, the cost of living has risen considerably since the coalition has been in power with people’s salaries being worth far less in real terms.

It is not only the low waged, poor, or vulnerable in our society who are feeling the effects of government policies.

Middle earners in what were once considered secure position are also feeling the effects as the never ending threat of redundancy and instability looms over them.

The government has assured that the foundations of UK society – the foundations which make up any modern society – have started to crumble, and will continue to do so until significant changes are made – but it will take time to reverse the damage already caused.

In the meantime, the British public remain complicit in their own slavery seeing few avenues to escape, and continue to trudge the path that has been created for them for the benefit of the rich and ‘powerful’.

The ‘system’ is unlikely to change in the near future whoever comes to power in the next election – the damage has been done and it will take politicians with balls of steel to confront the controlling influences that have led to the enslavement of the workforce.

Unfortunately, many people only see their immediate situation and look after their own interests, failing to realise that in doing so they are contributing to the continued enslavement of themselves and others. The ‘I’m all right Jack’ attitude that has become prevalent in our society is as much a contributing factor in permitting the government to abuse citizens as the policies introduced by government.

Until people start to realise how they are being used and manipulated – and start to do something about it – little will change.


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