Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

Monday, 3 September 2012

Zero hours contracts for NHS trusts


Today’s Independent reports that ‘zero hours’ contracts are being used increasingly for key clinical staff in NHS trusts.

Whereas it can be argued that the State might reasonably require individuals who are receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance to work some hours each week within the public service sector, the schemes that are being put in place are a great deal more than this they seem more like a punishment of the unemployed for not having a job – even though there are clearly not enough jobs.

Although most people may believe that the benefit system inherited by the Coalition was too generous to those without work, there has been a remarkable turnaround in the Government’s attitude towards the lack of jobs since Brown left office. When Cameron became PM there was no doubt that the lack of jobs was seen as the responsibility of government to correct.

Since the majority of the unemployed did want work they were viewed as unfortunate – victims of a downturn in the global economy. However, within a remarkably short time the Coalition, and the Tories in particular, have managed to put the blame onto the unemployed despite the fact that there are not enough jobs for the numbers out of work.

Through schemes such as ‘zero hours contracts’ those unfortunate to be unemployed have been reduced in number and turned into a resource for global corporations to exploit. In the three months to June the number unemployed fell by 46k to a a rate of 8.0% from 8.2% in the previous quarter. However, the number working part-time was up 16k to 1.42m – the highest since records began in 1992.

G4S, of Olympics notoriety, is one of the global corporations responsible for this practice. It is easy to take a nonchalant view of this increasingly used practice on the grounds that at least more people have some work which is helping to bring down the cost of so many unemployed. However, when it is recognised that the service provided by these global corporations create healthy profits for the directors and shareholder which are unlikely to be taxed at anything like the rate that is paid by small and medium sized UK businesses because of the use of tax havens.

So although the UK taxpayer may benefit from a lower cost for the unemployed, a good deal of the savings are simply passing into the hands of private investors of which, in too many cases only a small proportion is taxed.

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