Over 5 years on, and life under Labour is in many ways been worse than it was under the Tories.
The Labour government since coming into office has embarked on a strategy of forcing people into ever-more casualised, low paid jobs. Sure, it is all dressed up in the language of empowerment. Young people, single parents and now the unemployed in general have all found themselves empowered into jobs paying just over £4 an hour.
Egged on by Labour, there has also been an assault by bosses on working conditions. Again, it is all dressed up in the smooth-talking New labour language of ‘flexibility'. In other words, part-time working, short-term contracts and the increasing use of agency staff. This is the means by which bosses can intimidate workers and hire and fire at will. Millions of us in modern Britain have been reduced to little more than day labours with little or no job security.
Added to ‘empowerment' and ‘flexibility', we have ‘team working'. This Orwellian strategy imported from Japan and refined in University Human Resource Departments is aimed at ensuring that the interests of the company are made paramount. Those workers who complain, seek to join a union or, worse still, refuse to work unpaid overtime, are deemed to be putting their interests above that of the organisation. Sanctions range from loss of bonus (which is usually part of wages anyway) to the sack. Such ‘modern' Human Resource Management helps to explain why British workers work by far the longest hours in Europe.
In the face of the casualisation onslaught, the unions have proved pathetic. Instead of seeking to channel the growing misery of workers into resistance, they have concentrated on trying to convince management that unions can help raise productivity and, as such, are good for the company. TUC union logic now underpins casualisation, since it has the interests of the company first and foremost, not those of its members. Little wonder that on first meeting union officials, workers often mistake them for management.
The bottom line is that workers and management have nothing in common, and that the only way forward is workplace organisation, so we can start to set our own agenda together in the workplace. One small step in this direction is being taken by the Solidarity Federation. SF workers have launched a campaign against casualisation, aimed at informing workers and giving them the support and confidence to resist management attacks. Already, SF has been able to help workers who face sexual harassment, intimidation and bullying, as well as horrendous working conditions. All these cases are evidence of the power the boss class currently has in 21st century New Labour Britain. It is only through fighting back that the power of bosses and the Blairedvision Project can be challenged. Contact the ansaphone helpline for more information: 07984 675 281.