Now then, things are moving along at quite a pace here in the UK. Today is "Back to Work Day" for many. There is much debate as to the rights and wrongs of this. In fairness it has to be said that whatever the Government came up with would be interpreted in different ways. For any well meant policy to work there has to be sensible cooperation from those who implement it. Therein lays a huge problem within the UK.
Put in plain terms, a decade of Tory brainwashing has created a nation of selfish "I'm alright Jack" people who basically will not listen and will not be told anything. It all comes down to personal greed, much of it at petty levels. I live on the Sheffield/Rotherham border and can easily name three businesses who have sailed through the lock down without a care in the world. To those employers it all did not matter one jot. I hardly think that they have coined it in. More a case of sheer desperation for any available quid. Quite likely virus carriers will have been through those premises. They just do not care. This is not as rare as it should be.
Sky news is reporting this morning that HMRC is putting forward that they have received 800 calls from whistle blowers regarding employers who have been taking cash from the job protection scheme yet still pressuring people to attend the workplace. Sadly, this is not in the least bit surprising. I wrote a piece a while ago called "Obsessives" which was about obsessives in politics, it is very definitely the case that those who are obsessed with every single penny are far more dangerous to the UK public. It scares me deeply to think of the amount of infection that quite likely has been spread due to this mindset.
So, a young employee who has been struggling, missing dates to pay bills or the rent. Living in private rented housing. Has one of those jobs where the callous employer pays as little as they can legally get away with. Health & Safety is virtually non existent. Anyone who dares to highlight such things very quickly becomes an ex employee. Workers rights are routinely ignored and trampled over. This employee is sharp enough to understand the barrage of announcements that pour out of our screens. This employee - lets call her Lisa - has a very good attitude to life in general and sees only an ominous dark cloud hanging over her place of work. She also sees an ominous dark cloud hanging over her flat if she loses her mundane job. She is actually quite timid when it comes to verbal exchanges with people. She feels very alone and vulnerable when in the work place. Basically she is torn. Do the right thing and risk shattering her fragile life or do the obviously incorrect thing and hope she lives to see Christmas?
This is an extremely unfair choice for one so young. The isolation of being on her own when it comes to speaking up is the real enemy here. The employer rules by fear of destitution. Lisa wishes she was not alone. What can she possibly do?
Here in The Steel City something wonderful is happening. Two top class socialists have given birth to a lifeline for the people like Lisa. A fund has been set up whereby you can donate (I did it yesterday) whatever you like for that money to be used to pay the union subs of employees for a year! This is the best initiative I have heard about in many long years. The two who came up with this superb idea are Sophie Wilson and Nadia Jama, both long time advocates of fairness and equality for all. In these tough times such things are at a high premium. The immense importance of being in a union can not be overstated. All over the UK work places have been improved massively due to the input of union trained H&S Reps. When I started work back in 1976 in a steel rolling mill H&S was never mentioned. Serious accidents were not uncommon. Indeed deaths occurred.
It is not possible to try and envision what the average UK workplace would look like today without all that Safety Rep input over the decades. Sophie Wilson and Nadia Jama (google them )are actively putting things in place for others to carry on with that fine work that so very many have benefited from. Both are well known around Sheffield in socialist circles. Day in day out they dedicate their lives to helping others. People like young Lisa will soon have a way to break out of their isolated cell and liaise with others. The day is now on the horizon when Lisa will be able to realise that she is not alone.
Once people like Lisa become aware of not being alone things can happen quite quickly. All those renegade employers see that they are under a microscope, the infractions on laws become less prevalent. Left off the leash those employers will continue to spread misery via fear. Gone are the days when being a union member conjured up visions of being a trouble causer, now it's about improving things, providing education, equality, ensuring fairness, even becoming more productive. It is not difficult to see how renegade employers have been abusing our children for years. It is not by accident that these bad employers crop up in news reports regularly for all the wrong reasons.
Just look at the so called "Gig Economy".
It is also not by accident that you hardly ever hear of the thousands of companies that are organised and have a healthy relationship with the workforce. As things stand, the entire globe is in for a huge financial shock, the sort of which has never been seen before. All those renegade employers are going to plumb never before imagined depths. The only thing that matters to them is MONEY, not lives, not being grown up, not protecting their employees. The message is a clear and simple one.
Join a union today. I do not know if the wonderful brainchild of Sophie and Nadia will catch on, I sure as hell hope that it does. Unity really is strength.
Thanks for looking in.
Society not Economy.