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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 June 2014

"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

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 18 June 2014:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Strike back for a living wage

Report shows huge support for taxing rich

Survey shows potential for new mass workers' party

Them & Us

Kshama Sawant to speak at Socialism 2014

International socialist news and analysis

Iraq: Oil war's bloody legacy

Brazil: Upsurge in struggles of workers and homeless

Socialist Party workplace news

How should the RMT maintain Bob Crow's tradition?

Unison local government members want action on pay

Bakers call for 10 minimum wage

Escalation of FBU dispute begins

Lambeth College indefinite strike

Safety Glass workers strike for a real pay rise

Trades council conference: workers won't wait for TUC

Workplace news in brief

Come to the NSSN conference on 5 July

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition campaign reports

Rhydyfelin library saved

Nottinghamshire fire cuts - "pushed to breaking point"

Orgreave 30th anniversary - solidarity and celebration

Birmingham: new Socialist Party branch

Socialist Party Summer Camp 2014

Readers' comments and reviews

"Self-employed" and exploited

Book review: The man who loved dogs

Letters to the Socialist


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