GORDON Brown is now infamous as the friend of the equity capitalists who, thanks to him, pay no taxes, while he insists that the wages of low paid workers must be kept down ‘in line with the struggle against inflation’.
He is also infamous for his diktat that the employers must be subjected to only the lightest touch regulation.
The sort of country that this is creating can be seen with the rise of the gangmasters, who first hit the headlines after the deaths by drowning of the Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay.
Today even some of the most respectable of businesses thrive on low wages and super-exploitation.
The latest case is that, raised by the Unite union, concerning ‘the plight of a group of migrant workers working at Domino’s pizza outlets across Derby’.
According to Unite ‘Fifteen young Hungarian workers joined the T&G section of Unite to challenge what they considered to be systematic exploitation by the franchise holder employing them. . .
‘Earlier this week, the workers were summarily dismissed. They are penniless and now risk losing their tied accommodation.’
Unite continued that ‘In the few months the workers have been here, many have built up significant debts to their employers with money deducted from their wages’, including ‘£50 each per week rent for a room in sub-standard accommodation; high and vastly varying deductions for tax and National Insurance; hundreds of pounds to buy aging delivery vehicles and hundreds more for the insurance; some have also paid £180 to be found a job with Domino’s.’
Unite adds: ‘This week it was reported that Domino’s first half year’s profits rose by 35 per cent to £8.3m.’ They must be saying a prayer of thanks for Gordon Brown every night.
The latest figures for deaths on construction sites confirm that super-exploitation and desperate working conditions are growing in the UK, after 10 years of light touch regulation.
UCATT the building trade union reported yesterday: ‘Shocking figures released today by the Health and Safety Executive reveal that 77 workers died on construction sites in 2006/7 a massive 31 per cent leap on the previous year. Construction deaths account for a staggering 31 per cent of all deaths at work.
‘The majority of deaths were caused by falls from heights. The report reveals that the house-building sector and small construction companies have deplorable safety records. These sectors are the least unionised parts of the industry.
‘The rise in deaths comes at a time when the HSE is cutting the number of inspectors and reducing the number of inspections. HSE policy approach is in future to rely less in future on physical inspections and more on advice and support for employers.’
British troops in Iraq have suffered 162 deaths since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
Iraq has become known as the most dangerous place on Earth, with the media and the government lamenting the fallen.
However the building sites, with 72 deaths in a single year, are even more dangerous than the killing fields of Iraq are for British servicemen!
This is by kind permission of the British government with its light touch regulation, and the HSE which now sees its role relying less on inspection and more on getting advice from employers.
It is not a coincidence that there are large numbers of newly arrived foreign workers in the building industry where they are being cruelly exploited, and often being put into danger.
The trade unions must not just complain about this situation of death and super-exploitation.
They must take action to bring down the Brown government to go forward to a workers government and socialism.