Frances O’Grady – incoming TUC general secretary – has suggested in a Guardian interview today that high unemployment is a deliberate ploy being used by the government to suppress wage claims and destroy employment rights. As she puts it:
There was certainly a strong view in the 1980s, not just among trade unions, but also among a number of intellectuals and commentators, that unemployment was being used as a deliberate measure to keep pay down, and to keep people scared. As long as the number one worry for people, keeping them up at nights, is whether they’re going to have a job in the morning, then they are less likely to resist unfair changes, or unfair treatment, or cuts in real pay at work. So there’s a fair bit of evidence to suggest it can be a deliberate policy. And I think we do legitimately have to ask why the government isn’t taking action to create decent employment for young people, when the evidence is that if you don’t do that, you really are going to pay a very high price.
The Treasury is not having it. They responded, also in the Guardian:
To suggest [youth unemployment] is a deliberate policy is utterly ridiculous, a ridiculous accusation that is, quite frankly, utterly laughable.
The government is determined to tackle youth unemployment; the Youth Contract will provide nearly half a million new opportunities for 18 to 24-year-olds and is backed by almost £1bn of funding. We support the creation of jobs be they full time or part-time.
Now, of course I’m biased: I work for the TUC, and am proud to do so, but on this issue all the evidence stacks one way, and that is on Frances O’Grady’s favour. The “opportunities” the government refers to are little moe than shallow work creation schemes that have limited quality, no enduring value and no real job prospects. And that is inevitable: this government has persistently refused to stimulate demand to create private sector employment whilst simultaneously cutting government investment and jobs in a vain attempt to cut debt, which as the FT notes this morning is unlikely to work during this parliament…
TUC chief: fear of unemployment is being used to lower pay | Politics | The Guardian
Frances O’Grady says there is ‘a fair bit of evidence’ that lengthening dole queues can be calculated political move
The TUC’s leader-in-waiting has suggested that unemployment is being used part of a deliberate government strategy to “keep people scared” and depress pay.
Frances O’Grady, who will become the trade union organisation’s first female general secretary later this year, also accused No 10 of singling out women for some of the deepest public spending cuts, after women’s unemployment reached a 25-year high.
“You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was part of a ‘back to the kitchen sink’ campaign,” she said in an interview with the Guardian: “When you look at what’s happening, with women being hit hardest by job losses, service cuts, threats to take away employment rights, pay depression and rising bills and lack of childcare… you could be forgiven for thinking there is a plan here.”…