Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/713/14325

From The Socialist newspaper, 11 April 2012

When bosses say "we don't need you today"

Pauline Smith

Too many people abusing benefits? More like the benefit system abusing us! It's hard getting used to being unemployed: hard not to feel humiliated and broken. There was a time when choice was about which film to see in the cinema or where to eat out.

Now the choice is: "Should we put the heating on, or cover up with a blanket?" or "do I buy a newspaper, travel into town by bus and walk back - or can I afford a return ticket?" Somewhere in the back of my mind I imagine some Tory saying "walk there and back".

Charting the unclear waters of the benefits system is tricky enough but it's a nightmare when you find work with an agency. Two days after signing on with my husband (we were told to make a joint claim) he found work, which meant signing off.

A week later this work finished, so my signing day changed yet again and it was back to a joint claim... until a week on when he got another job...and then another. Shifts of eight hours, sometimes ten, sometimes 12. Late shifts weekdays; earlies weekends.

This is not workers choosing flexible hours but brutal exploitation resulting in irregular income and havoc in one's everyday life (and sleep patterns). Often the shift leaders phone to say "half a shift today". My partner frequently looks exhausted which makes me feel guilty as I've had virtually no work.

It's impossible to plan, impossible to assess how much is coming in... just the knowledge that too much is going out. There are days when the dark folds of depression seem to envelope you and you just wish the world beyond your home did not exist.

Not your fault

But it's there and impossible to ignore, not least because it's not just you and him, but millions of others. Not that this fact offers much consolation, but it serves as a reminder that none of this is your fault. You've always worked, you didn't create the recession.

Some people are raking the money in even if - or possibly because - hire and fire is becoming the norm again. Wages are sinking to rock bottom while people with children to keep, mortgages to pay and debts to clear, are faced with the uncertain prospect of whether they have work today - or not.

Text messages sent a couple of hours before the shift begins state curtly: "don't need you today". My husband arrived home four hours early yesterday: "I was lucky," he said "some people were sent home as soon as they arrived - one man drives 40 miles, the other 30 to get there". One colleague has had work on only one day this week.

Workers are being walked all over - it's a case of "forward to the past" - yet it's obvious there will be a breaking point. Everything this government says and does is about cowing people into submission, breaking the will to fight even before a fighting spirit has emerged.

Tory work and pensions minister Duncan Smith's words about 'restoring dignity' and 'mending broken Britain' by getting people back into work are hollow and cynical. Cameron's compassionate capitalism - the next step along the route to the Big Society - is an insult to our intelligence.

The words of a song spring to mind "... of those who are forced to choose, some will choose to fight".

Last year we saw dictators felled. This government is not invincible, these bosses can be beaten. The unemployed have few choices but personally, I prefer walking like an Egyptian over the prospect of living like a Victorian.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 11 April 2012:


Vote TUSC in May

On 3 May, use your vote to: Rage against austerity!

London Mayor election - Boris versus Ken

Plymouth's 'them & us' elections

A packed launch meeting for Tony4Mayor campaign in Liverpool

Wales can't afford to wait: fight back now!


Socialist Party news and analysis

Ireland: Mass movement against household tax and austerity

Working Tax Credit cut

Them & Us


Socialist Party feature

WANTED - decent affordable housing!


Socialist Party workplace news

NUT teachers' conference

Bus workers prepare to fight for Olympic payment

Job cuts at Debenhams

Unison Service Group Executive elections


Socialist Party youth and students

Living to work, not working to live

Clegg's 'youth contract' won't create real, long-term jobs

DWP tells young people to bail out big business

Next threat to under-25s: Housing Benefit

Class Actions


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

East London and the Olympics

Kill the act before it kills the NHS


Readers' comments

Surviving the Titanic

When bosses say "we don't need you today"


 

Home   |   The Socialist 11 April 2012   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  




Related links:

Unemployed:

trianglePCS protest

triangleFood banks and the real Daniel Blakes

triangleJarrow March: an inspiring show of solidarity between workers and youth

triangleCome to Socialism 2016!

Benefits:

triangleTory prescription for mental illness: stress and bureaucracy

triangleTwo in five 'right to buy' homes now for let

triangleWaltham Forest Universal Credit protest

triangleDriving examiners walkout hits first day of new test

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

19/1/18

Carillion

Carillion and the construction industry

17/1/18

Theatre

Theatre: 'Young Marx' shows growth in great platform for his ideas

17/1/18

Isis

Opinion: British imperialism can take no credit in fight against Isis

17/1/18

Carers

Opinion: foster care is work - carers deserve workers' rights

10/1/18

Housing

Debate: should tower blocks form part of socialist housing policy?

10/1/18

Art

Art can help expose sexual harassment

10/1/18

The Socialist

The Socialist Inbox

3/1/18

Letters

The Socialist inbox

3/1/18

Work Capability Assessment

Tory prescription for mental illness: stress and bureaucracy

13/12/17

The Socialist

The Socialist's 2017 quiz

6/12/17

Fire

The Socialist Inbox

6/12/17

Surrey

Comment: Socialism and truth about Zane

6/12/17

Labour Party

Blairite horror and Labour's divisions graphically exposed

30/11/17

Theatre

Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

22/11/17

Working class

Left comic's take on politics will have you in tears

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle17 Jan Corbyn's Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

triangle17 Jan NHS crisis: under pressure from all angles - end cuts and sell-offs!

triangle17 Jan We must fight all council cuts!

triangle16 Jan Home care workers to strike

triangle15 Jan Carillion crisis: Demand action to save jobs and services

triangle12 Jan Outrage against 'monster block' plan

triangle12 Jan Mini-strike wave continues and intensifies

More ...

triangle23 Jan Bristol North Socialist Party: 'You can't have capitalism without racism' - was Malcolm X correct?

triangle23 Jan Cardiff West Socialist Party: How the Poll Tax was beaten

triangle24 Jan Caerphilly Socialist Party: The Carillion scandal

triangle24 Jan Cardiff Central Socialist Party: Carillion collapse - Watershed moment for public services

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2