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:

triangleYoung people being strangled by debts

triangleHousing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

triangleMajor attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty

triangleFight expansion of disastrous 'Universal Credit' welfare system

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

18/10/17

Port Talbot

Powerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

18/10/17

Russian revolution

October 1917 reviews: 'More bright than any heaven'

11/10/17

Theresa May

Theresa May, Frida Kahlo and turning women into wares

11/10/17

Docks

Poverty, repression and fightback on the docks

11/10/17

The Socialist

The Socialist Inbox

11/10/17

TV

Shocking insight into Isis

2/10/17

Sexism

Hugh Hefner's exploitation of women

27/9/17

Football

Women's football - Sampson allegations

20/9/17

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

20/9/17

Socialist

Interview: the "socialist John Le Carré"

20/9/17

Women

Refreshing, anticapitalist - but little pointing a way forward

13/9/17

Women

New documentary asks women how their bodies are sexualised and policed

13/9/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

13/9/17

Che Guevara

Intimate insight into a revolutionary icon

6/9/17

Pensions

Bosses' pensions robbery

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


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

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

triangle25 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Mother Jones - A US labour pioneer

More ...

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

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 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