THE Office for National Statistics said the unemployment rate has fallen to 6.4%, down from 6.5% in May, with the number of people unemployed falling by 132,000 to 2.08 million, while the number of ‘self employed’ rose to a gigantic 4.5 million.
At the same time, average wages fell 0.2% in the year to June, the first fall since 2009, fuelled by the booming zero-hours contracts fiasco, where to get jobs the unemployed put themselves at the beck and call of bosses, without a guaranteed weekly wage, working week or holiday and sick pay.
On Wednesday, the Bank of England halved its forecast for average wage growth!
Spare capacity, and a low demand for labour power allows employers to hold down wages, and leads to what the Bank of England called the ‘underperforming economy’ with labour productivity well below what it was in 2008 at the start of the economic crisis.
Jeremy Cook, chief economist at World First, said the fall in average wages was a blow for those who were expecting an early rise in UK interest rates.
David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said the decline in wages growth ‘is a warning sign that the economic recovery, although on the right track, is still fragile’.
The Unite, and Unison trade unions commented on this critical situation for workers and the over 850,000 youth who are unemployed. Record low pay and rising insecure employment are blighting economic recovery, despite the apparent fall in unemployment,’ said Unite.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: ‘The British economy is in a Jekyll-and-Hyde situation. While the fall in the jobless total of 132,000 is welcome, we have to ask what sort of jobs have those people entered? The situation is compounded by the fact that more and more people are being driven into so-called self-employment in a desperate bid to get off benefits and find work.
‘Self-employment is not the economic panacea that ministers crow about; it forces workers into a state without rights and with wage insecurity, and we are increasingly encountering people forced into “self-employment” by employers who want to swerve their responsibilities.
‘At the same time, the wage siege continues. If you strip out bonuses, wage rises are struggling along the bottom at a record low of 0.6 per cent which is hobbling the recovery in the UK economy. If self-employment earnings figures were included it would look even worse, as the Resolution Foundation has shown.’
Unison said: ‘The rise of the number of self-employed shows underemployment is rife . . . underemployment is now a bitter reality for millions of struggling families across the UK. And many have no option but to work part-time because they cannot find a full-time job.’
As well there are 767,000 16-24 year olds unemployed. 247,000 have been looking for work for more than a year, while 700,000 youth have never had a job at all.
The two giant trade unions do not put forward any policies or actions to deal with this crisis that has turned the UK into a paradise for billionaires and a pauper’s nightmare for the working class and the youth.
In fact, there is a TUC Congress in September, where the TUC leadership is due to carry on discussing the practicalities of organising a general strike, as they have been doing for the last two years – trying to avoid the struggle while the situation of the UK working class and youth goes from bad to worse.
This is the year when the TUC Congress must be forced to call a general strike to resolve the capitalist crisis by bringing down the coalition government and bringing in a workers government and socialism.
The Young Socialists are organising a march, starting out from the TUC HQ in London on Tuesday August 19th at 10am, to get to the TUC Congress in Liverpool on Sunday September 7th (see ad page 2) to demand that the TUC calls a general strike to defend the interests and the lives of the working class and youth.
Workers and youth will be joining the march as it proceeds to Liverpool and ends with a mass demonstration and lobby of TUC delegates. Don’t let the TUC dodge the issue. Make them call a general strike! Make sure that you are there!