One of my photos

Thin ends of the wedge

May 12th, 2011 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 7 Comments · Politics

Just how many thin ends can a wedge have?   In one day we have two examples of  how the Tories are starting their attack on what few certainties there are in life as they try to reverse all the positive things achieved by the Labour party and indeed the Labour movement that Thatcher never quite got round to.We already know that they don’t like health and safety if our safety gets in the way of corporate profit because the rights of shareholders to make a slightly larger dividend is more important than my right to not get injured or killed at work, so what is next?

Well it looks like they have their eyes on TUPE now.  Interestingly the rhetoric on this is using two tactics they have already found used elsewhere:

  1. Saying that removing workers’ rights is actually good for the workers – that TUPE rules destroy jobs rather than save them.
  2. Calling TUPE protection “gold-plated” with its echoes of the public sector’s supposed ‘gold-plated pensions’

I could spend a long time picking apart even the few details given in that story, but I’m not sure I have the energy this late.   There are not many details given, but it looks like redundancy will not only be the cheapest option instead of the last resort it used to be, but it will now be even easier.  What next?  Reduce the statutory minimum redundancy payments (soon to be referred to as platinum-coated no doubt) because “actually it destroys jobs”?

If somebody is harrassed or hounded out of a job are they now going to have barriers placed between them and the prospect of justice at a tribunal just because a few people have made vexatious claims?    Not that the anybody in the story is saying that happens or that it happens a lot – just that employers are worried it might happen.

The other scary story in the news is about Westminster council wanting to change the rules on council housing.   This uses another favourite tactic of the Tories, often aided and abetted by the Daily Mail who will always find some tasty examples, where they find an extreme case of some sort of apparent abuse of a system or apparent injustice and use it to justify some measures which will do a whole lot more than address the supposed problem.

In this case Westminster council want to be able to raise council rents in relation to earnings, saying that there are people in council properties earning £100k a year while others are homeless.

It is all coached in such terms that to argue against it sounds like defending the indefensible, but I think we must argue against it on both political and practical grounds, but before that, just a couple of thoughts…

  • This is Westminster council we are talking about: isn’t at least part of the problem there down to them flogging off huge swathes of their council accommodation  in what was proved by the courts to be gerrymandering?
  • Do we actually believe that there are 2,200 of their council tenants earning £50k a year and 200 of them earning £100k a year?

I’m taking their claims with a pinch of salt until I see the methodology of how they arrived at those numbers and in the meantime I’m applying Occam’s Razor to them.  How likely is it that they went to every council tenant, asked them how much they earn, got replies from all of them, have that many high earners (let’s ignore even the Labour leader’s remarks about middle-incomes.  £50k puts you in the 90th percentile easily) and that those high earners give honest and accurate answers?

How much more likely that they have guessed or extrapolated from one or two cases which may or may not be apocryphal?

I may continue with this tomorrow, and rant about the practical reasons why this is such a bad idea.  In the meantime, note how they stress again that any changes would not affect existing tenants.  Whenever I hear that I always imagine them finishing the sentence in their heads with “for now”.


7 Comments so far ↓

  • skud's sister

    I saw the stuff about TUPE and redundancy yesterday on the BBC website and was surprised that more people weren’t up in arms. Or do you think that people are that scaed to put their head above the parapet?

    • Skuds

      I think most people don’t delve that far into the BBC website and get most of their news from whatever is on the front page of the papers or from the Daily Mail website (where news=which female celebrity is overweight/underweight this week).

      I expect unions will be pointing this out to their members.

  • Danivon

    TUPE is actually pretty weak as it is, and far from being ‘gold plated’ it simply means that new owners can’t just screw people over when they buy a going concern.

    And making it easier to make people redundant does not create more jobs (just as it being a bit difficult to do so does not ‘destroy’ jobs). By definition, if applied legally, redundancy means that the job no longer exists.

    The more the Tories do, and the more the Liberals let them (the Orange Bookers will be cheering this on, mark my words), the worse it gets. They really do want to punish everyone but their own type, don’t they?

    • Skuds

      TUPE is not perfect and seems to have plenty of loopholes which companies like Stagecoach are happy to use but it does provide some measure of security for staff.

      I think that is the common element to a lot of the proposed changes in all sorts of areas – they reduce people’s sense of security. A deliberate intention to keep us on our toes?

  • Richard W.

    “Deliberate intention” ? Of course it is.

    It’s a war – an all-out war of the private sector to decimate the public sector…TUPE, NHS et al.

    “Foreign policy and domestic policy are driven by a search for security, in a very special sense,” Chomsky said.

    “Security for those groups in society who Adam Smith called ‘the masters of mankind,’ those who basically own the society and are the principal architects of policy and design it so their own interests will be well served, no matter how grievous the impact on domestic population.”

    “When we invade those countries, and half destroy them, that stabilizes the region. This is the normal usage of the term stability,” Chomsky said. “Stability means we run it, we own the world.”

    “And democracy, if it means anything, it means that the will of the population has some effect on policy, not just the masters.”

    “The public education system is being systematically destroyed,” Chomsky said. “The tuition is so high in the major universities, it’s just for the rich…”

  • Ash

    TUPE is an EU Directive – I’m not sure that the Government could scrap it even if they wanted to.

  • Danivon

    No, but they could water it down.