Circle completes on the slave labour economy

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scrotgrot
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#1
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#1
This is what the Tories mean when they trumpet their "recovery" and "job creation".

This will have a much graver impact than previous Tory slave labour wheezes such as workfare, due to the numbers involved.

Seriously, when are we going to try to build a functioning economy in this country, stop using work to abuse people's human rights, and give people the benefits to which they are entitled?

It's beyond pathetic and I'm ashamed to be British whenever I read something like this. The French and Germans would laugh in our face if they knew how rotten the whole ship was.

Jobseekers face losing their benefits for three months or more if they refuse to take zero-hours contract roles, a letter from a Conservative minister has revealed.
For the first time, benefit claimants are at risk of sanctions if they do not apply for and accept certain zero-hours jobs under the new universal credit system, despite fears that such contracts are increasingly tying workers into insecure and low paid employment.
Last week, the Office for National Statistics revealed the number of contracts that do not guarantee minimum hours of work or pay but require workers to be on standby had reached 1.4 million.
More than one in 10 employers are using such contracts, which are most likely to be offered to women, young people and people over 65. The figure rises to almost half of all employers in the tourism, catering and food sector.
Currently, people claiming jobseekers' allowance are not required to apply for zero-hours contract vacancies and they do not face penalties for turning them down.
However, the change in policy under universal credit was revealed in a letter from Esther McVey, an employment minister, to Labour MP Sheila Gilmore, who had raised the issue of sanctions with her.
The senior Tory confirmed that, under the new system, JobCentre "coaches" would be able to "mandate to zero-hours contracts", although they would have discretion about considering whether a role was suitable.
Separately, a response to a freedom of information request to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published on its website reveals: "We expect claimants to do all they reasonably can to look for and move into paid work. If a claimant turns down a particular vacancy (including zero-hours contract jobs) a sanction may be applied, but we will look into the circumstances of the case and consider whether they had a good reason."
Higher level sanctions – imposed if a jobseeker refuses to take a position without good reason or leaves a position voluntarily – will lead to a loss of benefits for 13 weeks on the first occasion, 26 weeks on the second occasion and 156 weeks on the third occasion.
Asked about the issue by the Guardian, the DWP said jobseekers would not be required to take a zero-hours contract that tied them in exclusively to work for a single employer. The government is already consulting on whether to ban this type of contract altogether.
The change has been made possible because universal credit will automatically adjust the level of benefits someone receives depending on the number of hours they work. This means claimants should not face periods without the correct benefits when their earnings fluctuate or they change job.
However, critics raised concerns that the new policy will force people into uncertain employment and restrict the ability of claimants to seek better work while still placing a burden on many to increase their hours.
Labour's Sheila Gilmore said she was concerned about the situation because JobCentre decision makers already do not appear to be exercising enough discretion before applying sanctions under the old regime.
"While I don't object to the principle of either universal credit or zero-hours contracts, I am concerned about this policy change," she said. "I also fear that if people are required to take jobs with zero-hours contracts, they could be prevented from taking training courses or applying for other jobs that might lead to more stable and sustainable employment in the long term."
Andy Sawford, a shadow minister who has pushed for reforms of the contracts with his zero-hours bill in parliament, also expressed concern about the change, as universal credit will require many people on low hours to try to increase their work. Those below a "conditionality earnings threshold" – normally 35 hours at the minimum wage – may be asked to "carry out relevant actions" to raise their earnings, or again face sanctions.
"How can you commit to training, undertake a proper job search or agree to participate in interviews when you are on a zero-hours contract and may be required to work at any time?" Sawford said. "Requiring people to take zero-hour jobs is a big change from the past. It will create further insecurity for many of the lowest paid people."
Labour has promised to crack down on abuses of zero-hours contracts, with leader Ed Miliband saying their use has reached "epidemic" proportions in some industries. He wants to see workers with irregular shifts and pay getting a contract with fixed hours if they have worked regularly for the same employer for a year.
The TUC has also expressed worry that they are "no longer confined to the fringe of the job market". A spokesman for the DWP said: "As now, if there's a good reason someone can't just take a particular job they won't be sanctioned. But it is right that people do everything they can to find work and that we support them to build up their working hours and earnings. The average zero-hours contract provides 25 hours of work a week – and can lead to long-term opportunities.
"Universal credit payments will adjust automatically depending on the hours a person works to ensure that people whose hours may change are financially supported and do not face the hassle and bureaucracy of switching their benefit claims."
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2...ours-contracts
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LightBlueSoldier
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#2
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#2
If you are taking Jsa you should be for to take available opportunities that are suitable.


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scrotgrot
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#3
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(Original post by LightBlueSoldier)
If you are taking Jsa you should be for to take available opportunities that are suitable.
I would say a zero-hour contract fails this test since it is not an "opportunity" in any meaningful sense nor is it "suitable". This is because it is not likely to give enough hours to subsist on, particularly when factoring in things like childcare costs and the commute.

Imagine you own a shop. If you "hire" 700 people on zero-hour contracts just on the off chance that you need to call someone in a couple of hours a week, have you really created 700 jobs?

According to the Tories and the Job Centres you have.
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MindTheGaps
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#4
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The only abuse of human rights here is your absurd and demeaning use of the phrase.

And for all the furore, in the vast majority of cases zero-hours contracts are perfectly reasonable jobs. It may not have the security of a 9-5 job, but benefits claimants certainly shouldn't be able to turn their nose up at them. Beggars can't be choosers.
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Clip
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#5
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#5
(Original post by scrotgrot)
It's beyond pathetic and I'm ashamed to be British whenever I read something like this. The French and Germans would laugh in our face if they knew how rotten the whole ship was.
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The French have nothing to laugh about. Their economy is a busted flush and anyone who's anyone is leaving the country. Huge numbers of French people have moved to Britain in the past 10 years. Presumably so they can laugh at us?
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scrotgrot
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#6
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#6
(Original post by Rinsed)
The only abuse of human rights here is your absurd and demeaning use of the phrase.

And for all the furore, in the vast majority of cases zero-hours contracts are perfectly reasonable jobs. It may not have the security of a 9-5 job, but benefits claimants certainly shouldn't be able to turn their nose up at them. Beggars can't be choosers.
Don't be too sure. You will be astonished how quickly human rights fall away in the face of economic difficulty. It happened in the 1930s and the 1980s across the West. We must be highly attuned to opportunists using the recovery to make money by restricting the freedoms of the poor (and yes, money can achieve that just as effectively as hard power, if not more so, that's why we impose economic sanctions on countries these days instead of invading them).

I agree at the moment, but I don't think they will average 25 hours or whatever it is when employers expand them in the knowledge the unemployed will have no choice but to take them no matter how few hours are offered. What would stop a shop owner "creating" 700 jobs? It would be better for him, as he would have an almost unlimited pool of labour to call on if one didn't turn up.

Seriously, we already tried this one about a hundred years ago. All those working men lining up outside the factory gates at 4:30am hoping to be chosen for work that day.
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scrotgrot
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#7
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#7
(Original post by Clip)
The French have nothing to laugh about. Their economy is a busted flush and anyone who's anyone is leaving the country. Huge numbers of rich French people have moved to Britain in the past 10 years. Presumably so they can laugh at us?
Corrected. Speaking in sweeping generalisations across several decades, France is an example of the workers holding out for their employment rights, the number of jobs going down as a result and the economy slowing, and the state admitting defeat by continuing to hand out large social security incomes, keeping rents down and retaining large stakes in strategically important infrastructure (how many of our power stations do they own again?) Seems like the only people in France who lose out are the big business owners. Excuse me if I remain unmoved.
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Clip
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#8
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#8
(Original post by scrotgrot)
Corrected. Speaking in sweeping generalisations across several decades, France is an example of the workers holding out for their employment rights, the number of jobs going down as a result and the economy slowing, and the state admitting defeat by continuing to hand out large social security incomes, keeping rents down and retaining large stakes in strategically important infrastructure (how many of our power stations do they own again?) Seems like the only people in France who lose out are the big business owners. Excuse me if I remain unmoved.
So the rich move to Britain, and the proles stay in France to extort every last drop of blood out of the state. Tax revenues fall, government spending goes up and France is locked into a cycle of gloom - just like it is now.
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scrotgrot
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#9
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#9
(Original post by Clip)
So the rich move to Britain, and the proles stay in France to extort every last drop of blood out of the state. Tax revenues fall, government spending goes up and France is locked into a cycle of gloom - just like it is now.
Well I lived there for a year last year and they all seemed happy enough to me with a vastly superior quality of life. Still, all this is whataboutery. Are zero-hour contracts as an alternative to a benefit system really the best we can manage after a hundred years of supposed progress?
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MindTheGaps
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#10
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#10
(Original post by scrotgrot)
Don't be too sure. You will be astonished how quickly human rights fall away in the face of economic difficulty. It happened in the 1930s and the 1980s across the West. We must be highly attuned to opportunists using the recovery to make money by restricting the freedoms of the poor (and yes, money can achieve that just as effectively as hard power, if not more so, that's why we impose economic sanctions on countries these days instead of invading them).

I agree at the moment, but I don't think they will average 25 hours or whatever it is when employers expand them in the knowledge the unemployed will have no choice but to take them no matter how few hours are offered. What would stop a shop owner "creating" 700 jobs? It would be better for him, as he would have an almost unlimited pool of labour to call on if one didn't turn up.

Seriously, we already tried this one about a hundred years ago. All those working men lining up outside the factory gates at 4:30am hoping to be chosen for work that day.
You are making some rather fantastic leaps. Asking benefits claimants to take jobs without specified hours is hardly likely to transport back us to the 1930s or the industrial revolution.

For a start, people in those days would have been ecstatic to be told that if they were out of work the government would provide for them. Attaching the condition they should look for work is hardly the politics of the workhouse. Secondly, the reason we won't see the situations you envisage is because the economic power of employees grew exponentially throughout the last century, and the trend shows no signs of reversing. It is forgotten by the left that it was market forces, rather than regulation, that achieved that seismic shift.
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Clip
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#11
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#11
(Original post by scrotgrot)
Well I lived there for a year last year and they all seemed happy enough to me with a vastly superior quality of life. Still, all this is whataboutery. Are zero-hour contracts as an alternative to a benefit system really the best we can manage after a hundred years of supposed progress?
We are so far beyond where we were fifty years ago, never mind a hundred; we just have no general appreciation of it.
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scrotgrot
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#12
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#12
(Original post by Rinsed)
You are making some rather fantastic leaps. Asking benefits claimants to take jobs without specified hours is hardly likely to transport back us to the 1930s or the industrial revolution.

For a start, people in those days would have been ecstatic to be told that if they were out of work the government would provide for them. Attaching the condition they should look for work is hardly the politics of the workhouse. Secondly, the reason we won't see the situations you envisage is because the economic power of employees grew exponentially throughout the last century, and the trend shows no signs of reversing. It is forgotten by the left that it was market forces, rather than regulation, that achieved that seismic shift.
I don't agree at all. This very proposal is saying that if you're out of work the government won't provide for you, because it would result in employers creating almost infinite spurious zero-hour jobs in the knowledge that someone recently returning to benefits would be instantly pushed back out to work.

If you think that analysis is wrong, and employers wouldn't do that, please say why.

That trend has shown "signs of reversing" since 1980. Since then, apart from a brief period from about 1997-2002, the wages of the bottom 10% have been flat and they have therefore been losing economic power relative to everyone else, but particularly those in the top 10%.

The trend for workers to get a greater share of the profits they created by their labour is directly correlated with the strength of trade unions and the broadly dirigiste economy of the post-war consensus.

Please explain why you think "market forces" have been the main factor in improving the lot of employees, particularly during the period since the war.
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scrotgrot
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#13
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#13
(Original post by Clip)
We are so far beyond where we were fifty years ago, never mind a hundred; we just have no general appreciation of it.
Not true because of the cost of living. For example, to correctly fulfil the job-search criteria you now must have an Internet connection, a mobile phone, and the means to travel 90 miles from your home for an interview. This is just one example of how the fact that everyone now has better technology just leads to at least comparable levels of difficulty as back then. Admittedly we are a bit spoiled by the fact that we devastated that part of our economy that relies on physical labour.

In any case, that is immaterial. We should always be identifying common interests and fighting for more; that is the principle of democracy and free speech on which our society is supposedly built. Particularly when there are clear systemic economic benefits to redistributing wealth to the poor. What if people in 1960 had said, "OK guys, we've got washing machines and TVs now, we're much better off than those people in 1860, time to stop fighting for more now".
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Per
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#14
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Anyone who believes there is enough jobs for everyone without more evenly distributed wealth is clearly suffering from some sort of psychosis. In fact, uttering the very phrase 'just get a job' to a working class young person in this economy should be deemed enough to section one in the nearest psychiatric unit.
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MindTheGaps
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#15
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(Original post by scrotgrot)
I don't agree at all. This very proposal is saying that if you're out of work the government won't provide for you, because it would result in employers creating almost infinite spurious zero-hour jobs in the knowledge that someone recently returning to benefits would be instantly pushed back out to work.

If you think that analysis is wrong, and employers wouldn't do that, please say why.
There would actually be very little benefit to employers to do that. Generally it suits them far better to have a solid contingent of staff – who understand the role and whom the employer knows well – than chop and change every day. Especially as there is a minimum wage, they would find it hard to lower labour prices this way.

Even if you think they could feasibly do this, which I am also unsure of, I just flat out don't see why they would.

Also, say a claimant did get a 'spurious zero-hours job'. That doesn't mean they would lose benefits, because that isn't how the system works.

That trend has shown "signs of reversing" since 1980. Since then, apart from a brief period from about 1997-2002, the wages of the bottom 10% have been flat and they have therefore been losing economic power relative to everyone else, but particularly those in the top 10%.

The trend for workers to get a greater share of the profits they created by their labour is directly correlated with the strength of trade unions and the broadly dirigiste economy of the post-war consensus.

Please explain why you think "market forces" have been the main factor in improving the lot of employees, particularly during the period since the war.
Wages and working conditions have grown across the board in the period you mention. But this is only one piece of the puzzle. Lower taxation has meant that disposable income grew far more significantly in the period from the 80's onwards. Things have also become much cheaper to buy. Let's not forget, those evil capitalists have to compete for the custom of the proletariat nowadays. This has led to a downwards pressure on prices and an upwards pressure on quality which we have all benefited from. The consequence is that living standards for the bottom 20% grew more in the 80's than any other decade of the 20th century. Let us not also forget that there is a high correlation between economic freedom and the living standards of the lowest paid.

But the 20th century was one of unprecedented growth, when you consider what had come before. Consider where our grandfathers and great-grandfathers were to where we are today. Was this because the state legislated it should be so? Of course not.
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River85
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#16
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#16
(Original post by scrotgrot)
x
I don't see how this places people at financial disadvantage? It's still possible to sign on if working under 16 hours. Providing a person takes the job and declares hours worked and income when they sign on, and benefit is adjusted accordingly.

I think the proposal hinges on the fact that people must take any job, including a Zero Hours job, unless it's unreasonable for them not to do so. It's just an extension of the current practice to include Zero Hours contracts. So if someone has childcare commitments, and the cost of childcare and/or transport will place the person at a financial disadvantage, they can refuse the job without a sanction being applied*

*Admittedly it may well be that the Jobcentre don't agree, or raise a doubt anyway and send it to a Decision Maker, which will only create stress for the claimant.


(Original post by scrotgrot)
I would say a zero-hour contract fails this test since it is not an "opportunity" in any meaningful sense nor is it "suitable". This is because it is not likely to give enough hours to subsist on, particularly when factoring in things like childcare costs and the commute.
As mentioned, it's possible to still claim benefits. Plus the Zero Hours contract will give many much needed experience.

Providing all employer and employee pre-agreed availability (e.g. is only available a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, leaving the employee free to meet other commitments, or take on other work, during the remaining days) it's not as horrendous a proposal as it may seem.
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Rakas21
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#17
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#17
I don't think this is the worst idea. The notion that one cannot apply for other jobs while working part-time is absurd.

Also..

The average zero-hours contract provides 25 hours of work a week
Contrary to what the media seems to jump on not everybody hates zero hour contracts. Analysis suggests that 84% of people on zero hour contracts get 'sufficient' hours (albeit sufficient is subjective person to person). My own experience of being on 2 zero hour contracts (which existed before the recession i might add) is that i had plenty of hours and did not get the sack when an employer asked me to work that evening and i said i was out of town.

..

I won't pretend the situation is ideal but let's not call this slave labour when it really is not.
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