Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/916/23546
The Socialist 14 September 2016 |
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Them & Us
Them and us fishes, image by Suzanne Beishon (Click to enlarge)
1% owns 23%
The richest 1% in the UK own over 28 times as much as the poorest 20%.
The latest figures from Oxfam show Britain's bottom 13 million hold just 0.8% of the country's wealth. The top 634,000 have 23%.
The charity suggests this was a major contributing factor in the working class revolt that delivered the Brexit vote. The Socialist called this months before the referendum, and Jeremy Corbyn rightly acknowledged it immediately after.
Oxfam's proposals include limiting the pay ratio between workers and executives, and tackling tax dodging. Not a bad start. They also want workers on boards, and incentives to train us for better-paid jobs.
But just one worker in a privately owned boardroom stuffed with capitalists will change very little. We say: nationalise the top companies under the elected control and management of workers and service users.
And absolutely fund education and training. But we still need a living wage for all workers at all levels.
Meanwhile, the official number of workers on zero-hour contracts has zoomed up 20% in just a year.
The Office for National Statistics says 903,000 workers are now on zero-hour contracts. Many more will be on contracts with insufficient guaranteed hours, or other casual arrangements.
Some of the reported increase will be down to more workers understanding what zero-hour contracts are. They have been widespread for many years in catering and retail. Care is rife with them. Increasingly the public sector uses them too.
In reality, millions of workers could be on zero-hour or near-zero-hour conditions.
31% of zero-hour workers said they wanted more hours, compared with 10% on other contracts.
The Trade Union Congress has found that the median hourly rate for a zero-hour worker is £7.25. The national average is £11.05. That's more than a third less.