The TUC's call for unemployment to be a bigger election issue appears to have fallen on deaf ears. For the politicians that is. For most of us it is less easy to avoid. Unemployment has risen to over 2.5 million. The number of people classed as long-term unemployed has doubled in the last two years. Nearly one million young people are out of work. And almost 10% of the workforce is underemployed because work is not available. On the other hand, wages are so low that over a third of workers now have more than one job to make ends meet. The establishment politicians do not merely fail to provide solutions. The reality is much more horrific. In one voice they demand that the machete be sharpened for a bloody jobs massacre to reduce the budget deficit. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development predicts that over half a million jobs in the public sector could be cut under the plans of all three of the main parties. The Tories also promise to further harass and impoverish those who are seeking work. Their latest campaign poster features a picture of not-so-compassionate 'Dave' and the slogan: "Let's cut benefits for those who refuse work." The tragic suicide of a young woman who was rejected from 200 job applications is an indication of what jobseekers actually face. She wanted to be a teaching assistant, but was so desperate she would have taken any job.
The RCN nurses' organisation estimates that 36,000 nursing jobs could be affected by proposed spending cuts. But Gordon Brown, speaking to an RCN conference, had a different approach to communicating this. Lies. He promised to protect "frontline services". And flattery. He referred to "angels in nurses' uniforms". Brown probably hoped this show of sickening, saccharine sentimentality would distract from his gross hypocrisy. No wonder people are considering the Lib Dems when this is the best the two main parties can offer. But in local government they have shown their true colours. In Leeds the Liberal-run council threatened bin workers with up to £5,000 a year in pay cuts, almost a third of their average earnings. Only by striking were these workers able to defend their conditions. No matter what combination of LibLabToryism we get in the next government working class people face a battle to defend public services, such as the NHS, jobs and living standards. Socialist says no to cuts and mass unemployment. We demand a sharing out of the work, but without loss of pay. According to the TUC, workers in Britain put in 36 million hours of free overtime each year. We demand a £10 an hour minimum wage, repeal of the anti-trade union laws and the right to a job, education or training. Instead of wasting billions of pounds on privatisation scams, uncollected taxes of the wealthy and nuclear weapons, money should be spent on job creation programmes in socially useful services - housing, social care and green technology.
A recent survey indicated that 45% of public sector workers hope to see investment in services after the election. They will be disappointed. Ending the threat of cuts and privatisation requires a change in the way society is run. A socialist government would take the big corporations, which dominate Britain's economy, into democratic public ownership, under workers' control and management, in order to plan the development of society for need instead of profit.
A blog for the socially and politically conscious, written by a young, gay activist who strongly believes in equality and justice.