Life isn’t really about how hard you work, is it?

I often hear people congratulating others who are comfortably off, saying, ‘they’ve worked hard for it’. That’s absolutely fine, but it isn’t really about how hard you work, is it?

Years ago people with profitable businesses would say, ‘I’ve worked hard for what I’ve got and I deserve it’. Well my Grandad worked hard down the mines, and saw lots of others working hard , and paying with their lives.

Then, by implication some people sneer at those who, despite working incredibly hard cannot afford their rents, cannot afford to feed their children without state support, or benefits.

Then there are those who want to work hard, and are lucky if they can get a few hours work, but might get turned away if there’s no work that day as they are turned away because of zero hours contracts. I remember my mother talking about ‘piece work’, and how she and her colleagues, as typists would be paid by the number of words they typed.

Then there are NHS doctors and nurses working  incredibly long, unsafe hours, because there are not enough people trained to do the job. This is because of lack of investment in training because the government cut bursaries for nurses, and tripled tuition fees for students to train, and now tuition fees for students in England are the highest in the world.

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Then there are conscientious teachers working long hours at home. A quarter of teachers are working 59 hours a week. How can they present energetic exciting lessons when they are so tired?

Then there are delivery drivers, working in a Gig Economy , working hard for their families, working ‘all hours God sends’, like Don Lane who was not employed by delivery firm DPD when he died. The 53-year-old, from Christchurch in Dorset, was self-employed, part of the UK’s booming yet precarious gig economy. Lane, who had worked for DPD for 19 years, missed appointments with specialists and died after collapsing as a result of his diabetes. He leaves behind his wife Ruth, and a 22-year-old son.

Lane’s case is the deplorable end-game for the gig economy. He reportedly missed appointments because he felt under pressure to complete his rounds for DPD and faced £150 penalties for every day he failed to find cover. He was fined for attending one appointment and subsequently missed three others. He collapsed at the wheel of his DPD delivery van late last year before dying in hospital in January. It sounds draconian, but the conditions Lane worked under are not extraordinary.

Working hard to make a decent living does not come easy in today’s economy. Many may remember that during the 2017 Election,  Theresa May dismissed a hard working nurse’s plea for decent pay rise.  The  Tories live in a different world. They are so out of touch.

People who are comfortably off are lucky. I ask them, ‘how will you cope if you become ill and lose your home, when there is no social security net there for you? How will you cope if you become seriously ill or disabled?’

The Tories have demonised people when life takes a bad turn. One Tory candidate even suggested people on benefits should be ‘put down’. The media has created this hate culture.

People sneer about people whose pay is not enough to pay the rent even though they are often working up to nineteen hours a day. I’d say that is working hard. Whose fault is it that it is not enough to live on? The worker? The landlord? The employer?

  • In government, Labour’s Fair Deal at Work will ensure employers cannot exploit working people by using zero hours contracts. This will be an illegal practice.
  •  Labour will ensure all workers would receive a minimum wage of £10 per hour, whatever their age.
  • Workers’ rights will be integral and  protected in any EU withdrawal bill, negotiated before a final decision is made whether the UK will leave the EU.
  • Labour will defend the rights of workers to be a member of a trade union. 
  • Labour will introduce controls on rent rises, and new consumer rights for renters. 
  • Labour will set out to build one million council homes, affordable to rent in the next 5 years.
  • Labour will scrap the cruel Universal Credit, and replace it with a social security safety net in a new Service for Social Security, and stop the divisive demonisation of people in need.

It really isn’t about working hard, is it? It’s time we started thinking about fairness and justice. People’s lives are about more than working hard. They should be about living.

See Also:

It really isn’t about working hard. Ken Loach  has produced a movie, ‘Sorry we missed you’ which portrays the struggle working people face in todays’s gig economy. Here is the offical trailer, and it is being shown in cinemas now.