Boris Johnson and ‘Survival of the Fittest’

Quote

The Manners and Morals of High Capitalism

The only two things that were actually surprising about Boris Johnson’s Centre of Policy Research speech were:

i)  That anyone should think that Boris’ avowal of 19th Century Social Darwinism is   surprising because it is patently obvious that his speech also represents the views of Cameron, Osborne, Tory Ministers and much of the wider Conservative Party.

ii)  That Boris would have talked openly about his views in public.

However, Andrew Rawnsley was surprised on both counts:

Where on earth do we start? Let’s begin with his view of what drives human nature in general and capitalist economies in particular. The speech was highly illuminating – not about what really makes society tick, but about what goes on inside the whirling head of mayor Johnson. It is his contention that “greed” and “the spirit of envy” are not vices to be regretted, but virtues to be lauded because they are “a valuable spur to economic activity”. This was not a throwaway line, a light aside, just another one of those provocative Johnsonian sallies designed to wind up lefties and stimulate the erogenous zones of the right wing of the Tory party. It was central to his argument. He hailed greed and envy as emotions to be celebrated because that was at the heart of his contention that inequality is not only inevitable, it is desirable and necessary as an engine of economic growth.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/01/boris-johnsons-views-like-brave-new-world-dystopia

Clearly, Andrew Rawnsley has never heard of Herbert Spencer, 19th century philosopher beloved by the wealthy and powerful American Robber Barons, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and the rest?

(See below – J. K. Galbraith’s video clip from the 1977 ‘The Age of Uncertainty’ series)

It was Herbert Spencer, not Darwin, who coined the phrase ‘Survival of the Fittest’, drawing parallels between his political classical economic theories and natural selection.

Spencer’s theories of laissez-faire, survival-of-the-fittest and minimal human interference in the processes of natural law had an enduring and even increasing appeal in the social science fields of economics and political science. 20th century thinkers such as Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand expanded on and popularized Spencer’s ideas, while politicians such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher enacted them into law. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Spencer

‘Laissez-faire, survival-of-the-fittest and minimal human interference’ as advocated by Ayn Rand, is the pedigree of Boris’ incongruous suggestion that the largest cornflakes rise to the top of the shaken packet.

And also his even more controversial assertion:

‘… Johnson mocked the 16% “of our species” with an IQ below 85 as he called for more to be done to help the 2% of the population who have an IQ above 130.’

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/27/boris-johnson-thatcher-greed-good?CMP=twt_gu

(Well, perhaps not so controversial given that those percentages are inherent to the IQ test methodology… but let’s not get bogged down in dissecting Boris’s faulty understanding and ignorance. Let’s go with the implicit message.)

 

American follower John Fiske observed, that Spencer’s ideas were to be found “running like the weft through all the warp” of Victorian thought .. and are clearly still running like a weft through the upper echelons of the Conservative Party.  The silence from Cameron et al immediately following Boris’ speech was deafening.

Essentially, the tenets are those of the American Dream:

i)   Rich people are rich because they have fought their way to the top and are more intelligent.

ii)   Poor people are poor because they have not tried hard enough and are stupid.

iii)   Government and the benefits system prevent the cornflake packet being shaken hard enough.  Hence, the need to remove the ‘safety net’ of the welfare state and shrink the role of government.

(Frankly, I can’t believe that I’m writing this extremely unpleasant garbage which owes nothing to any informed understanding of genetics, cognitive psychology, sociology or economics.)

As a commentators on Cif wrote in response to Boris’speech:

‘They’re not even trying to pretend anymore, are they?

Perhaps that’s a good thing, because it shows that the end is near. Hubris is the best indicator for that…’

‘Spot on, it’s the new eugenics. The conservative hierarchy genuinely believes that there is no further need for social mobility, that the social hierarchy with its grotesque inequalities is some kind of perfect order. The rest of us simply live to serve the new banking aristocracy.’

Boris may well have overestimated the readiness of the UK for his ‘eugenic’ message.  Another putative Tory leader, Sir Keith Josephs, certainly scuppered his chance of being Prime Minister when he attributed the cycle of social deprivation to a combination of the young and poor in a climate of sexual freedom perpetuating a deprived class with little effective hope of self-improvement – adding that “the balance of our human stock is threatened”.

After some days, Cameron and Osborne finally felt the need to distance themselves from the Boris speech but it is noteworthy that their disclaimers were somewhat ambiguous and not entirely inconsistent with Boris’ views …

Asked on his flight to China whether the London mayor spoke for the Conservative party about IQ levels and inequality, the prime minister said: “I let Boris speak for himself. I think it is very important that we make sure we do everything so that we maximise people’s opportunities to make the most of their talents.”

.. which could mean ‘maximise cornflakes’ opportunities’ so that they can greedily and enviously fight their way up the packet unimpeded by big government.

George Osborne similarly distanced himself:

“I wouldn’t have put it like that and I don’t agree with everything he said.”

.. so which bit didn’t you agree with George?

However… How can Cameron and Osborne possibly say that they reject Boris’ philosophical assumptions when we can all see in their policies that they are doing their utmost to create the ruthless laissez–faire society advocated by Hayek, Friedman, Rand, Regan and Thatcher?

Postscript:

It is a bit hazy as to how Boris explains inherited wealth as being the result of individual struggle… Did Cameron, Osborne and the other cabinet millionaires all start at the bottom of the cornflake packet?

The Age of Uncertainty Episode 2 – The Manners and Morals of High Capitalism

The Age of Uncertainty is a 1977 television series about economics, history and politics, co-produced by the BBC, CBC, KCET and OECA, and written and presented by Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith.

Galbraith acknowledges the successes of the market system in economics but associated it with instability, inefficiency and social inequity. He advocates government policies and interventions to remedy these perceived faults

The content of the series was determined by Galbraith, with the presentation style directed by his colleagues in the BBC. Galbraith began by writing a series of essays from which the scripts were derived and from these a book by the same name, emerged which in many places goes beyond the material covered in the relevant television episode.

Coalition helps Foreign Companies’ Great Rip-Off

Quote

Tory Led Coalition Helps Foreign Companies to Rip Us Off!

By Gracie Samuels @GracieSamuels

Thames Water

Thames Water (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If Thames Water get their way and Ofwat agree as from 2014 millions of households will have an £29 surcharge added to their water bills. This will be on top of  any planned increases on water bills. A spokesman for Australia’s Macquarie Group the company which owns Thames Water said:

 “We have had a tough time financially as a company because of increased costs”

Haven’t most people had a hard time financially these past three years, why should we be forced to bail them out when they have made huge profits already at our expense?

The company give a number of reasons why they want this extra money from their customers and the company quotes the biggest reason is because they want £273 million extra to acquire land for the construction of the Thames Tideway Tunnel, (which is a major new sewer development) and also:

  1. They want to purchase the land now before the cost of land in London rises still further.

  2. The cost of operating private sewers transferred to Thames water by the Government in 2011.

  3. To subsidise the company for other customers who fail to pay their water bills.

Water privatisation was undertaken by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government in 1989, when she partly privatised the ten previously publicly owned Regional Water Authorities (RWAs) in England and Wales through the sales of publicly owned assets to foreign investors.
Brass_water_tap
When the Australian owned Macquarie Group purchased Thames Water, it didn’t just come up with a plan overnight to build the new Thames Tideway Tunnel, this would have been in the original purchase agreement and have been many years in the planning, so they should have costed for it, not suddenly force the consumer to pay  for their profit making ventures because the price of property and land in London has risen!
It beggars belief that the company are applying for this £29 surcharge when Thames Water revenues in the last financial year rose to £1.8bn! Putting it in context still further, the Tory chancellor George Osborne at the Treasury has allowed Thames Water to avoid paying corporation tax! Meanwhile giving permission to Thames Water to increase their bills to consumers by an inflation busting 6.7 per cent!
This isn’t all Osborne has allowed this company to get away with either!
Thames Water has been allowed to offset loans they took out outside of this country in order to purchase one of Britain’s publicly owned companies against tax bills accrued inside this country! So not only does this foreign owned company, the Macquarie Group, pay no corporation tax, they also pay hardly any UK tax!
On 1st October 2011, water and sewerage companies in England and Wales became responsible for private sewers which were previously the responsibility of property owners. This was meant to be a good thing, but all the company has done is pass on this cost to the consumer. For all their talk about helping the public to keep the cost of utilities down, once again we plainly see that this snidy Tory-led coalition government is firmly on the side of the multinational companies and is helping them while driving down our standard of living.
A breakdown of the £29 surcharge shows that £16 of it is accounted for by increases in bad debt – fuelled, of course, by the economic turndown. So it is not really for their so-called “super-sewer” the vast majority of this £29 is because the company wants all the gain and profit without taking any of the risks, they are passing on the risk to the customer forcing them to underwrite the companies bad debts!
Thames Water has recently paid their shareholders £1.4bn in bonuses and have also raised their customers water bills by £100 per year, this has allowed them to collect an extra £1.4bn – exactly the amount Thames Water have paid out to their shareholders in bonuses!
 
Water companies literally have people over a waterbutt and unlike gas and electric, customers cannot change their water supplier, so they are hostage to anything these foreign owned companies can get away with charging them and they seem to always get what they want as OfWat is toothless!
In 1988 Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative Government covered up the Camelford water pollution Incident because they feared that prosecution would “render the whole water industry unattractive to the City” and because Thatcher may have been unable to sell off our water industry to foreign investors.
Since Margaret Thatcher privatised and flogged off the country’s water supplies, a 2001 study carried out by the Public Services International Research Unit revealed:
  • Tariffs increased by 46% in real terms during the first nine years.

  • Operating profits have more than doubled (plus 142%) in eight years.

  • Investments were reduced

  • Public health was been jeopardised through water cut-offs for non-payment (this was made illegal in 1998 by the Labour government along with repayment meters and ‘trickle valves’.)

Margaret Thatcher claimed that privatising water would produce greater efficiency and reduce prices, she was wrong. Thatcher and her Conservative government also claimed that privatising gas and electricity would produce greater efficiency and reduce prices – wrong again!

Conservative PM, John Major privatised the Railways claiming greater efficiency and reduced fares, totally wrong! In fact this Tory -led coalition government are currently allowing a rail fares hike of at least 4.1 per cent and on some lines the price hike could be as much as 9.1 per cent as other costs are factored in. There has not been greater efficiency, trains are packed, people cannot get seats, amid cancellations and delays.

  • Food prices have risen by 6% and will rise a further 4%;

  • Rail fares will rise by at least 4.1%;

  • Despite making huge profits, gas and electricity companies prices rose by between 7% and 10.8% in 2012-13 and set to rise again in 2014.

  • Companies are blaming the Government’s ne ECO energy efficiency scheme and as usual the privatised companies are passing on the costs to the consumer. So this is an indirect stealth tax imposed on us by the Tory-led government.

Companies like Thames water, Centrica, British Gas, Eon etc are milking the lifeblood out of us, they are draining every last penny from our pockets.

I wonder, does Thames Water also makes use of the government’s ‘Workfare’ placements scheme? If they do this would also give them free labour and considerably reduce their payroll costs, so they win again, because not only are they not paying corporation tax, or UK tax on profits, their payrolls would be subsidised by the British taxpayer as slave labour workfare placements do not receive a wage from the company, they are just forced to work for £52 per week JSA!
Does Thames Water use zero hour contracts and short time contracts?

David Cameron, George Osborne and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg are stealthily privatising what Thatcher and Major couldn’t do and they are aiding and abetting companies like Thames Water to make vast profits off of our backs and pay hardly anything into the British tax system.

Study closely the effects of privatisation on your standard of living and quality of life, because the Conservatives are now privatising the NHS, education and the police service. Ask yourselves, can you really afford  a Tory government?

With Tory privatisation whether it is in the utilities, the NHS, education or the police service, will result in poor quality service at increased costs. Do you really want our NHS to end up in foreign private health companies hands? Companies like this who have already been given NHS contracts by this government and private companies that are not legally bound to show us their accounts, despite being given billions of pounds of NHS contracts?

Foreign companies have already bought up our rail, gas, electricity and water companies and look how we are being forced to pay the price, and now this current crop of Tories aided and abetted by the Liberal Democrats, are selling off the rest of our public services to foreign investors. They have already awarded UnitedHealth Europe contracts to take over your GP surgeries, how long do you think it will be before we are being charged for our healthcare? Already there are mutterings about how we should be charged to see our GPs! These private companies that the the Conservative government are bringing to buy and run our public services are not doing this for altruistic reasons, they are doing it to make a profit out of our NHS, education police service, prison service and probably fire service too etc etc and it is Cameron, Osborne and Clegg who are doing this, just like previous Conservative Governments under Thatcher and Major before them.

We are now almost at the situation where all our utilities and public services  are going to be owned and run by foreign Equity Groups.

This is what happens when we have a PR man for a prime minister running the country, he can talk the talk, but cannot walk the walk, he can flog everything off, but he has absolutely no idea of the consequences or the harm he is doing to this country for future generations and what is more he doesn’t care.

The Conservatives promised us that our bills/fares etc would go down under their privatisation, they haven’t they rocketed, we are paying more for our gas and electricity and water in this country so France, Germany and Russia etc can all enjoy cheaper bills at our expense!

As Osborne is poised with his foot on the pump and is furiously over inflating the housing and credit bubble, artificially bucking the market with taxpayers money and  using our money for Tory re election purposes, he is priming us all for another “Tory boom and bust” and when the bust comes as we all know it will, how will we sustain ourselves when this government have sold off every last piece of our industry and public services to foreign investors?

The Conservative party is not a proper political party, it is just the political wing of big business, banks and multinational companies, it is the  party of the City establishment. It is NOT for us ordinary folk, it is about making money and milking us for every last penny it can get out of us and giving us absolutely nothing in return. If that means taking benefits away from our poor, sick, disabled and vulnerable to achieve this, then so-be-it! If that means keeping people barely existing on low wages, forcing our unemployed to work full-time for about £65 per week and driving down the living standards of the “squeezed middle” too just to make these huge companies even richer and forcing people to use food banks and pushing children and whole families into poverty having to make a choice between heating their homes or eating, then that’s OK too. If the Tories whole ideological agendas’ success depends upon driving a wedge between friends and neighbours and turning the public against one another until everyone hates and loathes the very sight of  their neighbours, or even strangers as well as each other, then this is what the Conservatives will do. In fact they are already doing it! They are doing under our very noses, while PR man Dave lies to your face like a snake oil salesman!  This Tory government is turning this country into a cesspit of steaming hatred and resentment of each other. Sending vans into areas with high immigrant population telling them to “go home”.  Such hideous situations can only end in tears – ours!

And never forget – the Tory led coalition government could NOT do any of this if they were not being enabled to do so by the Liberal Democrats! 

See also: Watered down morality, has the penny finally dropped on water privatisation

Imagine all the People – and an Alternative World

Quote

How can we challenge the myths of Margaret Thatcher’s “There is No Alternative”? We need to awaken from an inhibiting stifling slumber, like a coma, when belief in a world of fairness in justice seems as unattainable as ascending Mount Everest on roller skates. We have become so entrenched in consumerism, so brainwashed by the media, that our imaginations need to be reclaimed. John Lennon’s “Imagine” asked us to:

“Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…”

-and-
“Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world..”  

See lyrics

If musicians can write songs we all believe in, I wonder – shouldn’t we hear this from our politicians? Andrea Brower appeals to our imaginations.

Reclaiming Our Imaginations from ‘There Is No Alternative’

Previously published on Common Dreams, by Andrea Brower

We live in a time of heavy fog. A time when, though many of us dissent and resist, humanity seems committed to a course of collective suicide in the name of preserving an economic system that generates scarcity no matter how much is actually produced. To demand that all have enough to eat on a planet that grows enough food, that absurd numbers of people do not die from preventable disease, that utter human deprivation amongst plenty is not tolerated, or that we put the natural laws of the biosphere above socially constructed economic “laws” — is presented as unrealistic, as the fantasy of idealists or those who are naive to the “complexity” of the world’s problems. If we create and recreate the world everyday, then how has it become so supposedly absurd to believe we might actually create a world that is honestly making the possibilities of egalitarianism, justice and democracy?(Source: Flickr / jimkang)

Capitalism — the logic of subordinating every aspect of life to the accumulation of profit (i.e. the “rules of the market”) — has become today’s “common sense.” It has become almost unthinkable to imagine coherent alternatives to this logic, even when considering the most basic of human needs — food, water, healthcare, education. Though many have an understanding of capitalism’s failings, there is a resignation towards its inevitability. Margaret Thatcher’s famous words, “There Is No Alternative,” no longer need to be spoken, they are simply accepted as normal, non-ideological, neutral.

What sustains the tragic myth that There Is No Alternative? Those committed to building a more just future must begin re-thinking and revealing the taken-for-granted assumptions that make capitalism “common sense,” and bring these into the realm of mainstream public debate in order to widen horizons of possibility. We can’t leave this task to the pages of peer-reviewed journals and classrooms of social theory — these conversations must enter also into the family dining rooms and TV screens. Here are some thoughts on conversation starters:

  • Alternatives could never work. Does capitalism “work”? Even by its own indicators, as we’ve become more capitalist (i.e. neoliberalism), economic growth and productivity has actually declined.

  • Today’s globalized world is too complex to organize things any differently. Of course the world is complex — each of us is a bundle of contradictions and we need look no further than the dynamics of a single relationship to make a case for social complexity. But things are also quite simple — we live in a world where one billion people go hungry while we literally dump half of all food produced. Can we not come up with a productive socio-economic system that also meets people’s most basic needs? The gift of today is that we have the ability to reflect and draw-upon many forms, past and present, of non-capitalist social organization, and to creatively experiment with blending the best of these possibilities. The fact that we are more connected than ever before and have advanced so far technologically gives us more possibilities, not less.

  • Because of our “human nature,” we can only create economic systems based on competition, greed and self-interest. This is not only utterly pessimistic, but plain wrong. Again, we can start by remembering all sorts of societies that have existed through history. Then just look around and ask the question, what motivates you and the people you know? Fields as diverse as neuroscience and anthropology have mounted evidence showing humans’ incredible capacity for cooperation and sensitivity to fairness. We are actually all quite capable of anything; but it is up to us to decide how to use our capabilities, and of course that will be dictated by what our social systems encourage and teach us to value. If there is one thing that can be said about “human nature,” it is that we construct ourselves from within our societies and we are incredibly malleable.

  • Freedom is only realizable through a free-market. Attaching our values of freedom to the market is not only de-humanizing, but it also fails to recognize how one person’s “freedom” to economic choice is another’s imprisonment in a life of exploitation and deprivation. There is no possibility for freedom and emancipation until we are all free, and this will only come through a much richer and deeper conception of human freedom than one that is premised upon going to a grocery store and “choosing” between 5,000 variations of processed corn.

  • Capitalism is the only system that encourages innovation and progress. Progress towards what? And how does enclosing common knowledge through intellectual property rights, or excluding most of the world from quality education, or depriving half of humanity from the basic life-sustaining goods needed to function healthily, lead to greater innovation? Just begin to imagine the innovative possibilities of a world where all people had access to everything they needed to live, to think, and to contribute to the common good.

  • Things could be worse. Of course they could, but they could also be better. Does the fact that we’ve lived through bloody dictatorships mean that we should settle for a representative democracy where the main thing being represented is money?

  • Things are getting better. Can we really say that things are getting better as we head towards the annihilation of our own species? Sure, we may have our first black president and be making small gains in LGBT rights or in women’s representation in the workforce; but let’s not neglect the fact that capital is more concentrated and centralized than it has ever been and that its logic now penetrates into the most basic building blocks of life. I think we should give ourselves more credit than to settle for this “better.”

  • Change is slow. Slow is not in the vocabulary of the corporations who are stealing our common genetic heritage, or their buddies who are getting rich playing virtual money games that legally rob us all. The enclosure of our commons and the concentration of capital is not happening slowly. Whether we acknowledge it or not, change is happening — what is up for grabs is the direction of that change.

  • The best we can hope for is “green” and “ethical” capitalism. The logic of this belief is fundamentally flawed because it assumes that within capitalism, businesses can prioritize anything above the bottom-line. In actuality, businesses that commit themselves first and foremost to being truly and fully ethical and green will find it very difficult to stay in business. Of course there are great models of ethical business — worker-owned organic farms, for instance — but these cannot thrive and become the dominant norm when they are functioning within an economic structure that concentrates wealth and power in the hands of Monsanto. And while we should support these alternatives that exist within capitalism, we need to recognize that it’s way too little, way too late — structural change must (and will) happen, one way or another.

  • Getting rid of capitalism means abandoning markets as a tool of social organization.This is not necessarily true, although perhaps we would do best without markets anyways. Societies have existed that have used markets but restrained oligopoly capitalism, and many brilliant thinkers have envisioned a transition to a society structured by norms of equality and sharing where markets do play a role. I’m not advocating for or against any specific proposals here, but the point is that this assumption is historically inaccurate and we have barely begun to give serious thought to other possibilities.

  • People don’t care. People may be distracted by consumerism, may only have enough energy to struggle to pay their bills, may be fearful, may lack access to good information… but none of these things mean that they don’t care. Show anybody an image of a starving child who works in the cacao fields but can’t afford to eat (much less taste chocolate), and they will feel disgust. The charity industry is thriving precisely because so many people do feel implicated in the revolting manifestations of capitalism. But people’s sense of outrage has been channeled away from collective political action and towards ethical buying and holiday-time charitable donations. Without an honest and sophisticated society-wide conversation about the structural issues we are facing, people’s care is reduced to individual guilt and disempowerment.

  • People won’t stop consuming, plus all the poor people want what the rich people have. Of course they do! Doing away with capitalism doesn’t mean resorting to primitivism, or abandoning all of our washing machines, or leaving the poor destitute. While of course there are limits to the earth’s resources (fossil-fuels in particular), this doesn’t mean that we can’t organize a productive, equitable and sustainable social order that includes many of the comforts of modern life and excitements of technology. We need not abandon desire with capitalism. In fact, getting rid of capitalism gives us the best chance of having time to organize a sustainable system of consumption before it is too late — staying hooked into capitalism may actually be the quickest route to primitivism.

Capital’s enclosure of our commons — our common resources, genes and even intellect — has been accompanied by an enclosure of our imaginations. We need to re-claim and re-orient what it is to be “realistic” from the falsehoods of There Is No Alternative. This is not a call for pure imaginations of some future utopia. It is not a fantastic plea for a sudden and complete dissolving of all the social structures that currently pattern our lives. Instead, it is a call to take what is already going on all around us, all the time — cooperation, sharing, empathy — and let these aspects of our humanity that we most cherish guide our future. To begin to re-direct and re-structure our social systems towards the things we most desire and value — caring for and cooperating with one another, true participation and democracy, human freedom and free time, peace and co-existence — and in doing so, to watch these things begin to flourish.

If it is naive to believe that we can structure society to reward goodness instead of greed and prioritize people instead of profit, then I’m fighting until the bitter end to maintain my naiveté! Things become possible when we believe they are possible; so let’s start believing.

Get Together! – Now we need Trade Unions like never before.

Quote

 Get Together! – Now we need Trade Unions like never before.  

From @Earwiggle

Trade unionists remember the Tolpuddle martyrs of the 19th Century. In 1834 six farm labourers were fighting for the right to be a member of a trade union in order to improve working conditions. They were convicted and transported to Australia. These sentences provoked an angry response and what followed was an uprising which led to mass trade unionism.

tolpuddle-martyrs

Margaret Thatcher attacked the Trade Union movement, because she knew that the working class and the Labour movement were united in strength. Under Thatcher, membership of trade unions  fell. Ironically, David Cameron’s policies, supported by The Liberal Democrats are breathing new life into trade unions, as working people recognise the need to be  organised and to  unite , as human rights and civil liberties are being crushed. The individual worker is very vulnerable under this government.

Today, trade union membership is growing, up in May for the first time in a decade.

There has been an erosion of workers’ rights, to a level not seen since Victorian times, (114 year workers rights scrapped by Coalition Government)  and wages are cut while the cost of living rises.  Pensions are attacked,  and workers forced to continue working to old age, whether they want to or are able to work.This all amounts to class-warfare, at a time when the rich grow ever rich and governments protect the status quo.

Apathy of workers allows this. There are more of us. Collectively, our voices are deafening. Global corporations can exert and power and lobby parliaments, because they have the power of finance but they represent a tiny minority. Ultimately, money is nothing, and growth and development is only achieved by the labour, knowledge and skills of working people. Without those, society will fail.

There has never been a time when working people need the protection of a trade union more. Today, it has been announced that individuals are to be charged a fee for employment tribunals.

UNIONS TOGETHER051_n

From Monday, workers in the UK will be charged a fee to bring a claim, a fee if the claim is heard and a further charge if they want to appeal against the decision.

Lawyers are predicting widespread chaos as charges are introduced for those pursuing sexual harassment or race discrimination complaints. Trade unions say the move – which ministers claim will save money for businesses and taxpayers – is the latest attack on workers’ fundamental rights. (Guardian)

The TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Today is a great day for Britain’s worst bosses. By charging upfront fees for harassment and abuse claims, the government is making it easier for employers to get away with the most appalling behaviour.”

  • People bringing employment tribunals must now pay a fee for the first time since they were created in the 1960s.
  • Under the new UK rules, they will have to pay £160 or £250 to lodge a claim, with a further charge of either £230 or £950 if the case goes ahead.
  • The higher charges will cover cases like unfair dismissal, the lower ones issues such as unpaid invoices.
  • Employers welcomed the fees as a way of “weeding out” weak claims, but one union said the move was “draconian”.
  • The Unite union said the measures would make British workers “some of the worst protected in the EU”.
  • The FSB hopes the introduction of fees will curb the number of speculative claims and help reduce the perceived risk of taking on staff. ”
  • Another union, the GMB, will stage a protest outside an employment tribunal in central London later.

This is an outrageous announcement on top of the withdrawal of legal aid, the abolition of the agricultural workers’ wages board, the stripping away health and safety equality laws which have taken generations to achieve. This is the last straw. We need to get together and to challenge this government.

Under the Tories, justice now comes with a price tag.
Your rights at work – worth fighting for.
Join the campaign: http://www.yourrightsatwork.org.uk/