Posts Tagged ‘internships’

Vox Political on the Labourist Owen Smith on Newsnight

July 27, 2016

Mike the other day also put up a piece on Owen Smith’s performance on BBC’s Newsnight. Mike and a number of other opponents of Blairite neoliberalism found it a cheering experience. It wasn’t quite a car crash, but, according to Mike, there were still some heavy swerves. He also observed that although Smudger mostly managed to control himself over Corbyn, he still felt constrained to sneer at him for his perceived lack of patriotism, and claimed that Corbyn had only had just over half the votes in the election, far underestimating the amount of support Corbyn had and has.

What I found particularly telling was the way Smiffy refused to use the word ‘Socialism’. He instead used the term ‘Labourism’ instead, to the manifest incredulity of the interviewer. In actual fact, historians of the Labour party and political scientists have for a long time made a distinction between ‘socialism’ and ‘labourism’. Socialism means the collective ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. It can take many different forms, from co-operatives through to state ownership, or collective ownership by trade unions, as in Syndicalism. It may also involve different degrees, from complete nationalism, as in the former Soviet Union, to a mixed economy, as in Britain and most other western European countries before Thatcher and the Neoliberal devastation of our public life.

Labourism, on the other hand, simply means anything that benefits organised labour. For a couple of decades after its foundation, there was a tension in the Labour party between the trade unions, or some of the elements in the trade unions, and the various Socialist bodies. Some of the trade union members wanted the Labour party to concentrate on protecting union rights, such as the right to strike and picket, and fighting to obtain better wages for working people. Furthermore, under Lloyd George’s introduction of the first, preliminary foundations of the welfare state, trade unions could serve as the official bodies for the administration of the social security and healthcare schemes, along with private insurance companies. This has been described as a ‘labourist’ policy, as it was designed to help working people, but was not a socialist measure in that it did not involve the state or collective ownership.

I was also told by a friend last week that the Labour party has removed the term ‘Socialism’ from its constitution. I’m not surprised. Blair was not a Socialist by any stretch of the imagination. He got rid of Clause 4, the clause in the Labour party’s constitution that pledged the party to nationalisation and collective ownership. I’m not surprised that New Labour, in order to endear itself to all those darling swing voters and the aspirant middle classes, as well as rich donors, dropped the ‘socialist’ label as well.

But Smudger isn’t a labourist, either. Blair and New Labour hated and distrusted the trade unions, and have done everything they can to deny them any effective power to oppose the increasingly punitive and exploitative employment legislation. Legislation introduced not just by the Tories, but by the Labour right. Blair and Brown talked rubbish about the need to support flexible labour market policies as well as social justice. In practice, the Warmonger and his grumpy sidekick jettisoned social justice, as again, swing voters, the aspirant middle class, and the media barons, like Murdoch, all had the vapours when faced with it.

So Smiff isn’t a Socialist, nor proper labour. He didn’t oppose the Tory welfare cuts, and I doubt very much that he wants to anything about the employment legislation that is driving people in this country into poverty – the zero hours and short employment contracts, the proliferation of unpaid internships, workfare and all the rest of the vile schemes designed to make working people as poor and as desperate as possible.

He and the rest of New Labour – Progress, Saving Labour and the rest, are bog-standard Tories, and nothing else. They should leave the party and cross the floor to their true political home.

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The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills

July 16, 2016

Body Economic Pic

By David Stuckler, MPH, PhD, and Sanjay Basu, MD, PhD (New York: Basic Books 2013)

This is another book I picked up in the £3 bookshop in Bristol’s Park Street the other day. Written by two American health researchers, it examines the way economic recessions and austerity affect people’s health from the Great Recession of the 1930s, the Fall of Communism, Greece and Iceland, and today’s recession, which began with the banking collapse in 2008. The authors are medical researchers, whose own experience of poverty and ill health has led them to examine its effect on entire societies. They conclude that while recessions often lead to high – frequently devastatingly high outbreaks of disease and mortality, what is really crucial is the state’s handling of them. In countries which have a strong welfare state, and are determined to invest into getting their citizens back into work, such as Denmark in the 1990s, public health may actually improve. And as public health improves, the economy begins to pick up. In countries where the opposite is true – where the state just cuts, and is intent on dismantling the welfare infrastructure, like Greece and Cameron’s (and May’s) Britain, the result is higher disease and mortality.

As well as giving the impersonal stats, they also illustrate the damaging effects of austerity on public health through personal case studies. These include ‘Olivia’, a little girl, who suffered terrible burns when her unemployed father tried to burn their house down in a drunken rage, and an elderly Greek man, Dimitris Christoulas. Unable to see any way out of his poverty, he publicly shot himself outside the Greek parliament building.

One of the victims of austerity mentioned in the very first pages of the book is Brian McArdle, a severely disabled man, who was nevertheless declared ‘fit for work by ATOS. Basu and Stuckler write

‘”I will never forgive them,” wrote thirteen-year-old Kieran McArdle to the Daily Record, a national newspaper based in Glasgow. “I won’t be able to come to terms with my dad’s death until I get justice for him.”

Kieran’s father, fifty-seven-year-old Brian, had worked as a security guard in Lanarkshire, near Glasgow. The day after Christmas 2011, Brian had a stroke, which left him paralyzed on his left side, blind in one eye, and unable to speak. He could no longer continue working to support his family, so he signed up for disability income from the British government.

That government, in the hands of Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron since the 2010 elections, would prove no friend to the McArdles. Cameron claimed that hundreds of thousands of Britons were cheating the government’s disability system. The Department for Work and Pensions begged to differ. It estimated that less than 1 percent of disability benefit funds went to people who were not genuinely disabled.

Still, Cameron proceeded to cut billions of pounds from welfare benefits including support for the disabled. To try to meet Cameron’s targets, the Department for Work and Pensions hired Atos, a private French “systems integration” firm. Atos billed the government £400 million to carry out medical evaluations of people receiving disability benefits.

Kieran’s father was scheduled for an appointment to complete Atos’ battery of “fitness for work” tests. He was nervous. Since his stroke, he had trouble walking, and was worried about how his motorized wheelchair would get up the stairs to his appointment, as he had learned that about a quarter of Atos’s disability evaluations took place in buildings that were not wheelchair accessible. “Even though my dad had another stroke just days before his assessment, he was determined to go,” said Kieran. “He tried his best to walk and talk because he was a very proud man.”

Brian did manage to reach Atos’s evaluation site, and after the evaluation, made his way home. A few weeks later, his family received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions. The family’s Employment and Support Allowance benefits were being stopped. Atos had found Brian “fit for work”. The next day he collapsed and died.

It was hard for us, as public health researchers, to understand the government’s position. The Department for Work and Pensions, after all, considered cheating a relative minor issue. The total sum of disability fraud for “conditions of entitlement” was £2 million, far less than the contract to hire Atos, and the department estimated that greater harm resulted from the accidental underpayment of £70 million each year. But the government’s fiscal ideology had created the impetus for radical cuts. (Pp. 3-4).

I don’t know whether Mr McArdle was one of those, whose deaths has been commemorated by Stilloaks on his blog, or whether his case was one of those which Cameron and aIDS laughed at when they were read out in parliament. But is notable that such cases are coming to the attention of health researchers and medical doctors, and are a cause of serious academic and medical concern.

Stilloaks, Mike, DPAC, the Angry Yorkshireman and very many other disability activists have covered individual cases, and the way the ‘fitness for work’ tests have been fiddled by Atos and now their successors, Maximus, in order to provide the pretext for throwing the vulnerable off benefits. Mike’s called it ‘Chequebook Genocide’. Jeff3, one of the great long-term commenters on this blog, refers to it as the Tories’ Aktion T4 – the Nazi’s extermination of the disabled during the Third Reich. There have been about 490 cases in which people have died of starvation, neglect and despair thanks to be thrown off welfare. And according to mental health profession, about 290,000 or so people have seen their mental health deteriorate – sometimes very severely – due to the stress of these tests.

Books like this show how counterproductive such austerity policies are, as well as their purely destructive effects on human life. But this will not be heeded by the Tories, nor by the baying, right-wing rabble who blindly follow them. They want to grind the poor even further into the dirt, to create an impoverished, desperate working class willing to take on any kind of work, no matter how low-paid, not-paid – think of all the unpaid ‘internships’ – and degrading. All so they cut taxes and give more power to the rich, the bankers, big business and particularly the hedge funds and vulture capitalists.

And so the many are killed, all for the privileged few represented by Theresa May.

Private Eye’s ‘The Directors’ on Workforce Exploitation

March 7, 2016

Here’s another very pointed comment on the nature of modern corporate capitalism from ‘The Directors’ cartoon from Private Eye. This piece ran in their issue of the 10th to 24th June 2005.

Directors Cartoon 4

If you can’t read the text, the speech bubbles say

‘Remember the days when we used to force our workers to work longer hours … and have less rights? Well now we have a modern, empowered workforce … and they demand longer hours and less rights!’

This is right. Or at least, it was then. At about the same time that came out, the Financial Times ran an article which described how workers were working longer hours, having been told that the industries or the jobs that did this were giving them some kind of vital experience that was expanding their horizons. The article described a young woman, who had worked all night on some problem at work, positively glowing at this exciting opportunity she had been given. The Times was talking about very middle class jobs in the financial sector or IT, or similar, but the point was there. Employees were working long hours, for less, on the specious pretext that this was somehow empowering them.

In the eleven years since, that kind of rationale for exploiting the workforce has sort of worn off. It’s still being used to sell internships and ‘work placements’ in the workfare industry, but its seems that generally the use of coercion has simply become more overt. It’s now no longer being sold to the workforce as ’empowerment’. You’re simply expected to work longer, either because of the government’s austerity programme and the need to pay off the deficit, which somehow means that vital services and lifelines to the poor have to be cut, or there’s simply no explanation given at all. The government has destroyed workers’ rights and is busy eviscerating the unions. You have to work harder, simply because you don’t have a choice. There are millions of others like you, and if you don’t, you can always be sacked and replaced. And corporations do, at a moment’s notice.

I’ve got a feeling Marx would describe all this as part of the false ideology that disguises the exploitation of the workers and keeps them in chains. Marxism as a whole has failed, but bits of it are still very relevant. And that’s one of them. Except now the lie is being discarded, and the naked force beneath is showing through.

From 2011: DWP – Internships Considered as Paid Work

January 30, 2015

I’ve blogged recently against the massive increase in the use of unpaid interns by business. There have also been cases, where individuals performing voluntary work have been told by the Jobcentre that they cannot do so, unless they are put on an official workfare scheme. The most notorious of these cases was of a geography graduate, who was doing voluntary work in a museum as the first hopeful step for a career in this sector. This story from Private Eye’s issue for 24th December 2010 – 6th January 2011 reports a similar case of another graduate working unpaid for the Lib Dem MP Julia Goldsworthy.

Interns
Invisible Income

If employers are still harbouring doubts about whether they should be paying their interns after last Eye’s story, “Internshits” on the exploitation of young school leavers and graduates, then the Department of Work and Pensions can put them straight.

As graduate and Eye reader Steven Price discovered when he declared his unpaid internship with former Lib Dem MP Julia Goldsworthy, the benefits office considers him to be properly employed. He had hoped to sign on as he had no money and no income – he had just decided that being an unpaid intern was better than “sitting on my ass doing nothing” while he looked for paid work.

Not according to the benefits office. As far as it was concerned, he had a job. He was told that unless he was working for a recognised charity, any other volunteering counted as employment, would be assigned an hourly rate and that sum would be deducted from any benefits he was due. Thus he qualified only for his national insurance contribution – no housing benefit, no money to live on, nothing.

The Eye reported how, in the face of widespread and growing use of unpaid interns in big corporations, newspapers and even in the NHS and Home Office, lawyers are looking to take test cases to court under minimum wage legislation on the so-called “duck rule” – ie if it looks like work and feels like work, it is work, rather than volunteering or training.

Clearly the DWP has already decided the outcome. These young people should be paid.

Quite right – they should be paid. But too many big businesses are making too much profit exploiting young hopefuls for it to stop. And the structure of workfare in the UK means that it looks very much as if it was deliberately set up to supply unpaid labour to particular industries. If interns have to be paid elsewhere, then I’ve no doubt the government’s corporate backers benefiting from workfare forced labour will be alarmed at the prospect that they might have to pay their volunteers. So there’s going to be a lot of opposition to any legal challenge for the benefit of unpaid workers.

From 2010: Private Eye on Internships

January 21, 2015

One of the most malign business practices to have emerged over recent years is the replacement of proper, paid work by internships. Many of the major companies now exploit the unpaid work of young hopefuls desperate for their a step on the ladder to a real job. Five years ago Private Eye published this article criticising it in their edition for the 10th – 23rd December 2010. Not only does it describe the abuses of the internship system itself, it also makes a case that it is actually illegal. The article runs:

Minimum Wage
Internshits…

As youth unemployment hits a record 1m and school leavers and graduates are desperate to find work, UK employers are only too happy to help so long as they work for nothing.

In recent months, some of corporate Britain’s biggest names, including Tesco, Volkswagen, Morrisons and Harrods, have adopted David Cameron’s Big Society approach to voluntary work and advertised unpaid internships.

Most involve clerical work dressed up as “exciting opportunities” for the inexperienced. Tasks include making the tea, filing, entering data, picking up the boss’s lunch and in some cases, as documented by the site Interns Anonymous, scrubbing toilets and sweeping floors. Clothing chain Urban Outfitters expects its interns to work for nine months or not bother applying. In the search for “efficiency savings”, even the Home Office and NHS are now getting in on the act while cutting back on paid staff.

However, the scam may soon be stymied because it appears that under national minimum wage legislation most of this labour exploitation could be illegal. As one employment lawyer says: “The law is far from watertight on this, but its follows the same principle as the duck rule. If it looks like work, and feels like work, it is work, not volunteering or training. And these interns should be paid [the] minimum wage.”

After a successful legal action by a member of the broadcasting and film union BECTU, the National Union of Journalists has taken up the cause too. In October it launched a campaign to help interns claim thousands of pounds in back pay from publishers. Its lawyers are reviewing nine cases they hope to use to test the minimum wage law.

Not surprisingly, the mainstream press has been quiet on the matter. As one editor on the Guardian put it: “We’re in a slightly tricky situation here in that my understanding is that we don’t pay them either.”

Insiders at the New Statesman confirm that although editor Jason Cowley earns a handsome six-figure salary, around a third of his staff are unpaid interns. A review of their jobs board confirms that their soon–to-be launched sister mag, Charity Insight, plans to staff itself from a rolling stock of unpaid interns with no guaranteed job at the end.

After hearing of the NUJ campaign, Girish Gupta, a former intern at the Independent, decided to claim back what he believed to be fair wages for stories the paper had published. In a rather curt email, deputy editor Adam Leigh concluded that Gupta’s request was “particularly idiotic”. After Gupta referred his case to the Department for Business work and pay helpline, another email, this time from the Independent’s legal department, mused that if Gupta should win “the fall out in the heart of the economy would be enormous, not least in the heart of government where unpaid internships are part of the structure”.

So there it is from the Indie’s legal department: a massive part of the economy and the structure of government is based on the exploitation of the unpaid labour of the aspiring unemployed workers. They’re being exploited and betrayed, not just by government and ordinary employers, but also by the very left-wing press, who should be defending them against it. And all so that the people at the very top can claim their vastly inflated salaries.

Tunes for Toilers: The Jolly Machine, edited by Michael Raven

May 25, 2014

Jolly Machine

I found this in the sheet music section of Hobgoblin Music, a music shop specialising in folk songs, music and instruments in Bristol’s Park Street. Subtitled Songs of Industrial Protest and Social Discontent From the West Midlands, the songs in this collection describe and protest about the hardships of nineteenth century industrial urban life, covering low and unpaid wages, hard, exploitative factory masters, prison and transportation, unemployment, and the threat of mechanisation, the soul destroying drudgery of the workhouse, emigration, and Chartism and the promise of political reform from the Liberals.

The songs include:

Bilston Town,
Charlie’s Song,
Chartist Anthem,
Colliers’ Rant,
Convict’s Complaint
Dudley Boys,
Dudley Canal Tunnel
Freedom and Reform,
John Whitehouse
Jolly Machine,
Landlord Don’t You Cry,
Monster Science,
Nailmaker’s Lament
Oh! Cruel,
Pioneers’ Song
Poor of Rowley,
Potters’ Chant,
Sarah Collins,
Thirteen Pence A Day,
Tommy Note,
Waiting for Wages.

There’s also an explanatory note about the songs at the back.

‘Waiting for Wages’ and ‘The Tommy Shop’ deal with ‘tommy notes’. Until the passage of the Truck Acts, many employers didn’t pay money wages to their workers, but only tokens or notes that were only valid at the company shops, thus exploiting their workers further and massively increasing their profits. ‘Waiting for Wages’ is written from the women’s point of view, and describes them waiting for their menfolk to hand over their wages, half of which they’ve already spent in the pub.

The ‘Convicts’ Complaint’ is about the harsh conditions in Ciderville Jail, while ‘Sarah Collins’ is about a woman transported to Van Diemen’s Land – Tasmania – for some unstated crime. ‘Dudley Boys’, ‘Nailmaker’s Strike’, ‘Nailmakers’ Lament’, and ‘Colliers’ Rant’ are about strikes, some of which exploded into violent confrontation between the strikers and the army. ‘Jolly Machine’, ‘Monster Science’ and Charlie’s Song – the last about a notorious factory master and the scab workers prepared to work for him – are about the poverty and unemployment caused by mass industrial production to the traditional artisan craftsmen, such as potters. The ‘Needlemakers’ Lamentation’, ‘Dudley Canal’ and ‘Oh, Cruel!’ were all written to raise money for those suffering from or threatened with unemployment. ‘Oh, Cruel’ was written for a benefit performance by a Mr Rayner on behalf of a serviceman, Tommy Strill, who had lost a leg and eye in combat. The ‘Dudley Canal Tunnel’ song was a fundraiser, which aimed at raising £5,000 to keep the tunnel open and the boatmen, who navigated through it, in work. The ‘Potters’ Chant’, ‘Bilston Town’, and ‘Poor of Rowley’ are about poverty. The last is specifically about the mindless, soulless labour in the town’s workhouse. ‘Landlord, Don’t You Cry’, and ‘Pioneers’ Song’ are about emigrants leaving Britain for a more prosperous, optimistic future abroad, including America. ‘Thirteen Pence A Day’ is a song bitterly criticising conditions in the army, and urging men not to join up to lose life and limb fighting people they don’t know and who have never done them any harm. It’s a fascinating demonstration that anti-War songs didn’t begin with Vietnam. John Whitehouse is about a man, who hangs himself after failing to find a buyer for his wife. It was the custom in many parts of England for a man to sell a wife, with whom he could no longer live at an auction in the market. It’s a shocking example of how low women’s status was. The ‘Chartist Anthem’ and ‘Freedom and Reform’ are ballads about the demands for the franchise. The ‘Chartist Anthem’ describes the immense hardship in the struggle to get the vote. Its last two verses run

We men of bone, of shrunken shank
Our only treasure dearth,
Women who carry at the breast
Heirs to the hungry earth,
Heirs to the hungry earth.

Speak with one voice, we march we rest
And march again upon the years,
Sons of our sons are listening,
To hear the Chartist cheers,
To hear the Chartist cheers.

At a time when many working and lower middle class people feel disenfranchised and ignored by the political class, this is a song that could well be revived for today’s struggle to get politicians to wake up and take notice of the poverty and alienation now at large in Britain.

‘The Great Battle for Freedom and Reform’ also demands the extension of the franchise for the workers, and urges them to support the Liberals. The first three verses read

You working men of England,
Who live by daily toil,
Speak for your rights, bold Englishmen,
Althro’ Britan’s Isle.
The titled Tories keep you down,
Which you cannot endure,
The pass the poor man with a frown,
And the Tories keep you poor.

cameron-toff

Cameron: A titled Tory keeping you down, if ever there was one!

With Beale & Gladstone, Mills & Bright,
We shall weather thro’ the storm,
To give the working man his rights,
And gain the bill – REFORM!

We want no Tory Government, The poor man to oppress,
They never try to do you good,
The truth you will confess.
The Liberals are the poor man’s friend,
To forward all they try,
They’ll beat their foes you may depend,
And never will say die.

The description of the Tories still remains exactly correct. Unfortunately, the present government has the song’s claim that the Liberals are the poor men’s friend to be a hollow joke, although it was certainly true at the time.

The songs are an interesting document about the hardship and social injustice working people experienced in the nineteenth century. It’s the other side of the coin to the image of ‘merrie England’ presented in some traditional songs and the Tory view of history promoted by Michael Gove. And with exploitative employers now eager to use the cheap labour supplied by unemployed ‘volunteers’, ‘interns’ and those on workfare, assisted by a Tory government of aristocrats enforcing a policy of low wages and harsh, anti-union legislation, these songs are all too relevant.

From 2013: Llib Dem Peer Offers Unpaid Internships – Expects Aspiring Activist to Work for Free

April 16, 2014

This is another story from the Eye for 22nd March – 4th April 2013:

After unflattering press coverage of their unpaid internships, the Liberal Democrats are finally offering a grand total of eight paid internships across the party in 2013, at the national minimum wage of £6.19 per hour.

Alas, not everyone seems to have got the message. Lib Dem peer Lord Storey of Childwall is using the “w4mp” website to offer a two-month sting for an education intern on a so-called “voluntary” basis.

The successful candidate will have to prepare briefs on a wide range of education subjects – including, presumably, whether or not you should pay young interns for working a five-day week or whether it’s acceptable to fob them off with lunch money.

The website on which the post is offered, w4mpjobs.com, notes: “The role being advertised is a voluntary one. As such, there are no set hours and responsibilities and you should be free to come and go as you wish.” Whichever intern gets the job should try ‘coming and going as they wish” and see how far it gets them. (In the interest of fairness, we should point out that nay young Tories seeking unpaid work can apply for an internship in the Conservative HQ’s press office, on the same miserly basis.)

Mike over at Vox Political has already blogged on the way the Tories deliberately advised their members to make similar internships and low-ranking posts ‘voluntary’ so they wouldn’t have to pay their staff salaries. As with Lord Warner, the Labour peer caught promoting the privatisation of the NHS and recommending charging a monthly payment so that people could remain in it, this is another powerful argument for the establishment of an elected Upper House. As for Storey himself, it brings to mind Churchill’s comment about one of his aristocratic opponents: ‘The honourable member represents only himself, and I don’t like his constituency.’

Paid Internships in the Cultural Sector in Bristol

November 26, 2013

And now something rather more positive, I hope, after the news of yet another death due to ATOS.

I’ve been going on a course here in Bristol at ‘M’ Shed, one of the City’s many fine museums. It’s run jointly by the museum and South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, and is designed to give people some of the employment and job seeking skills they need to get them back into work, as well as the opportunity to do some voluntary work at the Museum. I’m aware how close it is to workfare, but nevertheless I decided to go on it as I’m interested in working in the heritage/ museum sector. I’ve met a lot of very interesting people on the course, who’ve come from a variety of backgrounds and with different skills. And it’s been extremely interesting hearing their experience of the current job situation, and their views on the disgusting policies of the government. The lecturers running the course are by no means blind to the failings of various employers. When a few of the people on the course started discussing the truly terrible and exploitative employers they’ve had, one of the lecturers joined in with some other tales of bad employment practice, though diplomatically naming no names.

Yesterday they announced that they, along with the other museums and art galleries in Bristol, including the Arnolfini, had come together to form a scheme that has created 72 paid internships for young people in Bristol aged between 18 and 24, who wish to work in the heritage/ cultural sector. They urged us to spread the word about it, and pointed to one of the lads, who was assisting them on the course, as one of the interns.

I have to say that I have very strong reservations about internships. All too often they’re simply a way for already wealthy firms to profit from the unpaid labour of idealistic young people wishing to work in that industry. Private Eye has run several pieces in its ‘Street of Shame’ column covering the use of internships and extremely poorly paid junior posts in newspapers like the Times, which enable Murdoch to award himself the vast pay rises he and the rest of his board and senior editorial staff enjoy. The worst offender for this is actually the supposedly Left-wing Guardian, which is presumably trying to use them to stop it from losing even more millions by actually having to pay its journos. These internships are paid, and so, I hope, different from these other exploitative schemes.

I don’t really know much about them, apart from the fact that they exist, and are for people between 18 and 24. Thus they don’t benefit middle-aged people like me. Still, they may offer someone else a start in the museums and cultural sector, and so I thought they were worth mentioning.

The Arts Council page reporting the establishment of the scheme is at http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/news/arts-council-news/creative-sector-offers-new-employment-opportunitie/.

They give the following websites for finding out more about apprenticeships, internships and applications for wage funding cep@ccskills.org.uk and http://www.creative-employment.co.uk #sthash.QojyaxEU.dpuf.

Also according to the website, more information on Bristol’s Creative Employment Programme can be found from Sam Thomson at sam.thomson@uwe.ac.uk.

12 Per Cent of Workers’ Income Now Eaten Up by Job Costs

September 28, 2013

According to this item on yesterday’s MSN News, http://money.uk.msn.com/news/workers-spend-12percent-on-job-costs, workers are now spending up to 12 per cent of their annual income on job costs, such as commuting to work, child care, work clothes and computer equipment. These cost the average full-time employee £2,681 per year. The report notes that although wages have risen by 1.4 per cent, the cost of working has increased by ten per cent. The report comes from a survey of about 2,000 people for Santander’s cards department. The chief executive of Santander’s cards department, Alan Mathewson said: “Earning a living can be an expensive task, particularly against a backdrop of rising living costs. The price of going to work has increased significantly since last year but average salaries have not and, as a result, workers are considerably worse off.’

With companies increasing trying to cut down on costs by turning to workfare and internships to recruit unpaid labour, employees are having to bear the costs of their own employment. In the case of unpaid internships, they are effectively having to pay for the privilege of having a job. This also partly explains why the government is so keen to cut benefits to the unemployed on the grounds that they should not be better off than the poor souls fortunate enough to be working. In the current jobs market, where having a job may effectively mean a reduction in salary in real terms due to inflation and rising job costs, or indeed are forced to pay for the privilege of working as an unpaid intern or volunteer, many people would feel that they are effectively being penalised for working to the point where they may wonder why they bothered taking the job at all. In order to keep the supply of low or unpaid labour going, the Coalition is forced to cut benefits to the unemployed as far as possible and beyond. The reduction in unemployment benefits and the shabby treatment of those out of work is directly connected and part of the same employment strategy that sees the salaries of those in work reduced, and their conditions of employment lowered. And all the while the Tories announce loudly that in penalising the unemployed, they are somehow preserving the dignity and morale of the aspirational employees, who don’t want to go to work while others in their street still have their curtains closed. The real benefit of these policies isn’t to the employees, but to the Tories’ immensely wealth paymasters in Tesco, ASDA, News International and the like. For their company executives, it is, as Private Eye would say, very much a case of ‘trebles all round’.