|The News Line: Editorial
Friday, 10 March 2017
Tory budget–tax relief for bosses, tax increases for low paid!
THE headlines in the bourgeois press yesterday howled about Tory chancellor, Philip Hammond, breaking a cast-iron Tory election manifesto pledge that there would be no tax increases under a Tory government.
What these papers didn’t say is that Tory pledges are only sacrosanct when it comes to implementing privatisation or bringing in grammar schools. When it comes to hitting low-paid workers, the only pledge the Tories will keep is to drive them as far into the gutter as possible.
This is what is behind Hammond’s announcement that National Insurance will be increased for self-employed workers.
By self-employed he does not have in mind the highly paid contractors, but the millions of low-paid workers in the so-called gig economy. These are the army of workers who are deemed self-employed by companies like Uber or delivery firms like Deliveroo whose drivers are classified as self-employed despite the fact that they are tied hand and foot to working for them.
For miserably low pay these ‘self-employed contractors’ are entitled to no holiday or sick leave pay, are forced to provide their own vans or cars and, as a recent case revealed, are forced to provide a replacement if they can’t work for whatever reason. This month it was reported that couriers working for the multinational DPD company delivering parcels for stores such as M&S, John Lewis and Amazon were being charged £150 a day if they could not find anyone to cover for them when they were ill.
Being sick means not only losing a day’s pay but being fined as well for any loss sustained by the company. Hammond’s tax hike on self-employed workers hits all those earning as little as £8,060 a year take-home pay, it is estimated that 1.6 million will be paying on average £240 more every year raising an estimated £5 billion a year to help pay off the national debt run up bailing out the bosses and bankers after the financial crash.
Hammond claims that this is not a tax rise for the low paid but an attempt to introduce ‘fairness’ by making these self-employed workers pay the same NI contributions as those in a permanent secure job – not that he intends them to have the same rights to holiday, sick pay or unemployment benefits as those in full-time work.
In the UK, it is estimated that five million people are employed in the gig economy – so called because they only get paid for the ‘gigs’ they do. But for the bosses this is the future as manufacturing industry and secure jobs crash under the impact of the world crisis. No more permanent employment with rights, instead a workforce composed entirely of individuals slaving away on poverty wages under short-term contracts and without any union representation.
Just to drive the message home that it is the working class that is going to be hammered, Hammond announced in the same budget that there will be a cut in corporation tax from 20% to 19%. Since 2010, when the Tory-led coalition came to power, corporation tax has been cut by 11% saving these corporations billions in taxes.
The response of Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, to this attack on workers was to say on BBC that there was a ‘general sense of unfairness’ and that he was ‘hoping that we’ll be able to persuade the chancellor to back off from this’. He added ‘Certainly, the Labour Party will oppose this. I think other parties will as well. We may be able to persuade enough Conservative MPs to ask the chancellor now to think again.’
It is not a question of begging the Tories to change the mind of Hammond. The issue today is that bankrupt British capitalism can only limp on by driving the working class into the most extreme poverty and smashing every right they have.
The only answer to this attack is to force the TUC to call a general strike to kick out the Tories and bring in a workers government that will expropriate the bankers and bosses and put an end to capitalism through the socialist revolution.
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