TRUE to form, Brown the bankers’ prime minister, opened his speech on apprentices yesterday by hailing the employers saying: ‘I am delighted to join you today to celebrate the achievements of employers up and down the country . . .’
He went on to slap down the TUC for calling for apprentices to be paid £110 a week, roughly the minimum wage for youth.
He said: ‘I do not believe that we should price apprentices out of the market with unaffordable wage levels. Apprentices have a lower minimum wage because they are still in training. The TUC must recognise that we must not move the apprenticeship away from what it is – potentially the best vocational training for work and a career, raising the young person’s prospects of earning a higher wage just as it boosts the employer’s productivity’.
That’s it. Your millions of apprentices will be working away at raising McDonalds productivity etc. for either a pittance or for nothing!
Brown continued: ‘So it is time for a wake up call for young people, employees and employers.
He then revealed his ‘facts’. These were that ‘The latest studies suggest that of today’s 6 million unskilled workers in Britain we will soon need only half a million – over 5 million fewer. And that whilst we currently have 9 million highly qualified workers in Britain, the challenge of the next ten years is that we will need 14 million – 5 million more.’ The ‘we’ he is talking about are the employers.
He added threateningly: ‘We know what is needed to unlock the talents of every person in our country . . .’
This turns out to be a bribe for the bosses and force for the workers. ‘The government is offering a credit of at least £3,000 to help cover the costs of an apprentice. . . ,’ while the unemployed are to have ‘a skills check’ which is ‘to include compulsion for the unemployed and many inactive men and women not just to seek work but to acquire skills.’
There are to be ‘new incentives for training but in return more compulsion to take up those opportunities. So if the unemployed don’t train when given the opportunity it will affect their benefit entitlement.’
And: ‘We want lone parents on benefit to be training in preparation for going back to work when their child goes to school.
‘And there will be a new regime for Incapacity Benefit claimants which, for the first time, will mean work for those who can, education or training for those with no skills, and treatment for those who need medical help.’
And for ‘our young people’ there is to be a plan ‘to designate employers who can award qualifications’ to give every worker in Britain ‘the chance of a skill. These work-based qualifications independently validated are good for the country as well as the individual and could lead to thousands more workers qualified for the future.’
Brown and McDonalds are going to be marching arm in arm towards that ‘highly skilled’ fast food heaven.
Purnell, the new Work and Pensions Secretary, was then introduced to put more of the boot into the working class.
He haughtily declared ‘Incapacity Benefit is a test case. We do not think of people as incapable. We think of them as being perfectly capable, with the right support. That’s why IB will go, replaced by the Employment and Support Allowance, with the emphasis on what a person with a physical or mental health condition can do rather than cannot do.’
He added: ‘We need to rewrite the terms of the welfare contract. This will offer the disabled an opportunity to look or train for work and if they do not then they will face sanctions.’
The Labour government is bringing in a whole series of the most desperate measures at a time when British capitalism is in a desperate crisis. They plan to terminate the Welfare State and to turn Britain into a cheap labour paradise for the bosses.
In the days ahead, the working class will have no alternative but to deal with Brown and the ruling class through a socialist revolution.