Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/768/16829
Them & Us
You might think the point of a minimum wage is to make sure all workers are paid at least enough to afford the very basics.
You'd be wrong. Apart from the fact the measly amount is so pitiful, many are forced to top up their income with benefits to survive, and some employers don't even bother paying this insufficient legal minimum.
Last year the government found that 26,000 workers had been underpaid and were owed compensation - 708 employers were fined. And that's just the ones they found out about!
£30,000 is more than the annual salary of most of the public sector workers who've lost their jobs as a result of the government's cuts.
It's also the cost (paid for by us of course) of a re-design for a piece of paper. MPs had previously been assured there would be no additional cost as a result of the redesign.
But clearly Parliament's 'day's business document', outlining the order of the day and questions on the agenda, deserves more than nurses, social workers and teachers.
A new report by the OECD has shown that crisis and austerity have fuelled the growth in inequality. In fact the wealth gap grew faster between 2008 and 2010 than at any other point in the previous 12 years
Free Bradley Manning!
The trial of US soldier Bradley Manning, accused of leaking documents to Wikileaks, is underway. Bradley faces several charges, some of which he has pleaded guilty to.
But it is the charge of 'aiding the enemy' - potentially carrying the death penalty - that is causing controversy.
The prosecutors argue that releasing information onto the internet is the same as knowingly handing over information to Al-Qaida.
Many legal experts and civil liberties campaigners have condemned the charge as a dangerous attack on freedom of speech which could set a precedent that leaves millions who post online subject to prosecution for serious crimes.
Any Londoner will tell you that navigating your way around the capital now requires a detailed knowledge of the biggest international companies.
We have the 02 arena (previously the millennium dome), Emirates Airline (a cable car across the Thames) and the EDF energy London Eye (the big wheel).
And now there's a proposal to make the trend even more widespread - a report by a Tory London assembly member has suggested that tube stations adopt corporate branding. So you could soon be alighting at 'Burberry by Bond Street' or 'Virgin Euston'
When George Osborne announced details of his new 'Help to Buy' scheme, he hoped it would be hailed as a great help to young people otherwise unable to get onto the housing ladder.
But the scheme, which offers to underwrite up to 20% of a mortgage, is being seen straight through, even by business leaders.
One rightly commented that what young people need is affordable housing, not greater availability of debt increasing house prices even further. He called it "a moronic policy". Hear hear.
A study by the Institute of Fiscal Studies has revealed that the average middle-income family will be £1,800 a year worse off by 2015 because of the cuts
Waiting times in accident and emergency departments of hospitals are at a nine-year high. The most recent figures show that almost 6% of patients wait for four hours or more. This is an increase of a third on the previous quarter.
At the same time seven in ten chief executives and chairs of hospital trusts believe waiting time for treatment and patient's experience of the NHS will get worse over the next year because of the £20 billion planned 'efficiency savings'.
What we heard
At a recent meeting against the bedroom tax, a woman described how her friend had saved up for ten years for an expensive new carpet for her council house.
Now, the council are threatening to evict her as she cannot afford the bedroom tax, and the carpet cannot be removed, so she can't take it with her.
In The Socialist 5 June 2013:
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