Osborne intent on lowering people’s standard of living

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While the fall in the jobless total of 132,000 is welcome, we have to ask what sort of jobs those people have?

This is compounded by the fact that more and more are being driven into so-called self-employment in a desperate bid to get off benefits and find work, coupled with the growth of insecure ‘flexploitation’ of agencies and zero-hour contracts

Self-employment means workers have no rights but have wage insecurity.

At the same time, the wage siege continues. If you strip out bonuses, wage rises are struggling along the bottom at a record low of 0.6 per cent which is hobbling the recovery in the UK economy. If self-employment earnings figures were included it would look even worse, as the Rowntree Foundation has shown.

With George Osborne borrowing way beyond what he promised, his austerity policies are costing this nation and its people dear. This is no longer about reducing the deficit; it is about the systematic lowering of the living standards of ordinary people, while corporations rip off the state with tax avoidance scams and taxpayers bail them out further by subsidising low pay.

Millions of people feel insecure in their jobs. Hundreds of thousands of our young people are languishing on the dole or press-ganged into workfare.

Inflation is still 1.9 per cent – more than three times the rate of earnings. The case is clear that UK workers need a pay rise – and this can be well-afforded by companies sitting on a cash mountain of reserves.

A government serious about job creation would not be borrowing to keep people in benefits, but would be investing to create work and skilled, decent jobs, through a mass house-building programme, rebalancing the economy away from its increasing dependency on the low-wages service sector, and tackling the chronic housing need.

Ged Dempsey

Unite the Union, Printworker