Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/815/18790
"Self-employed" and exploited
Who do they think they're fooling? With the number of registered unemployed reportedly at an all-time low for this recession, the government again claims their policies are working. Apparently much of this fall is due to 780,000 people now being self-employed.
So is their triumphant vision of small businesses a reality? Is this a new capitalist recovery? Having been sacked by the council, many qualified social and youth workers are now 'self-employed' consultants to charities doing the work they used to do.
Booming "entrepreneurship" isn't working for us either. I'm a "self-employed" cleaner working from home. My husband - who retrained as a teacher - usually works for an agency doing assembly work at between £7 and £8 per hour. In April he was offered £4.50 an hour - and nearly accepted.
We never know how much we have to live on. Claiming benefits is a nightmare: there always seems to be one rule or other to deny us. Recently, we didn't claim early enough (we waited due to the promise of work). The agency twice gave wrong details about the shifts, which not only meant lost earnings but led to each incident being deemed as a "no show" by the respective employer.
My freelance income averages out marginally above benefits. Sometimes I am sent an assignment in the evening which has to be finished by the next morning. Every so often I have to work flat out but there are weeks and months when I earn next to nothing.
Two years ago I kept going on home-grown veg and potatoes. When the crop was bad last year only the kindness of friends stopped me from visiting the food bank. We halved our gas bill by turning off the water and central heating. Unless we have visitors (when we use a heater) it's jumpers and blankets for us. All this makes Osborne's smug statements quite nauseating.
While campaigning for TUSC we met people who were far worse off and getting depressed because they can't provide for their children. People say the government is full of out-of-touch millionaires. But the ruling class is not ignorant of the effects of poverty.
They are suppressing information on food banks, distorting statistics on benefits, vilifying claimants and know the sad facts on suicides among jobless men. They pursue callous policies in full knowledge that the further they get, the closer they bring us to the low pay, rickets, malnutrition and despair of the 1930s.
They dismissed the hunger marches then. This time we need a campaign around low pay and employment that will not only make history, but change it.
A 'self-employed' worker
In The Socialist 18 June 2014:
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