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The Working Class, Elderly and Poor Face Similar Hurdles In The UK As They Do In the US

An ePolitix interview with Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary of Unite the Union, indicates that workers in the UK are facing surprisingly similar difficulties to workers in the U.S.

According to Cartmail, there is a growing divide between the ideologies of Unions and the parties in power. Policies put in place by the Coalition government are not helping the public sector. The British are also in unfavorable and unpredictable financial times. Sound familiar?

Services for older people, services for disabled people are suffering. There has been a dramatic cut to information, advice and guidance, which is something that at a time of economic hardship we need more of, not less.

Companies in Britain, much like America, are trying to circumvent employment laws by exploiting loose legislative language. One of the laws being abused is Section 118:

In terms of job insecurity, there is, in UK employment law, a provision under Section 118 in the Employment-Trade Union law, for employers to give notice of dismissal and then workers either have the right to accept a new contract, or they don’t – and that is not categorized as automatic unfair dismissal.

At Southampton City Council, that technique has resulted in ongoing industrial action. This Master-Servant tool has been used increasingly by councils. Rather than negotiate with trade union representatives and seek to find solutions to the 28 per cent front-loaded cuts, these Section 118 dismissals have become a weapon of choice. This inevitably creates real concern about job security.

To their chagrin, Union members looking to Party members for help are often being told what they want to hear and then seeing those same politicians voting against them.

To give you an example, health visitors, who are Unite members, were promised by a minister at the Conservative party conference last year that there would be no transfer of power over health visitors from health organisations to local authorities. This was an important statement because, when local authorities are under such pressure, we worry about the fragmentation of the health visiting service and worry that cuts would be ripe.

Sadly this decision has been changed. We thought that we had been listened to, but the promise was broken.

There are many shouting that their government is discriminating against the public sector. Much like in the U.S., everyday citizens are being treated unfairly or being stripped of rights they thought could never be taken from them. This is causing the people who voted this coalition party in to power to rethink their view of mass spending cuts now that they must live in their overbearing shadow.

If you look at the changes to Disability Living Allowance and the reduced access to information, advice and guidance, this obviously impacts heavily on the disabled.

The scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance, increased tuition fees, the removal of the programme to get young people into good quality work experience and the increase in joblessness is a real attack on young people.

Additionally, socio-economic groups which rely more on public services are being disadvantaged. There are lots of low-earners working in public service provision, so pay freezes are having an impact. If public services are privatised it will be a race to the bottom in terms of pay and pension provision.

There is a massively unfair and disproportionate impact on people within society who are already disadvantaged. This all adds up to a real widening of economic inequality.


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