Smash capitalism to end hire and fire at will and poverty pay

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WHAT kind of future capitalism has in store for the entire working class was forcibly brought home this week – a future where workers have absolutely no employment rights, can be hired and fired at will, and where pay is cut down to a level so far below the poverty line that millions simply will not be able to afford to feed and house their families.

This is all bankrupt British capitalism has on offer today.

On Monday the coalition government’s ‘employee ownership’ scheme came into effect.

This scheme allows employees to trade their rights under employment law in return for shares in the company for which they work.

The shares that any worker receives will be non-voting shares and completely off the list when it comes to share dividends.

Given the collapse of British capitalism these shares will be worthless anyway.

In return for these bits of paper, workers will give up every single right under employment law and can be sacked or laid off at will by the employer with no compensation whatsoever.

This scheme has been presented as voluntary but in fact there is nothing to stop it from becoming a condition of employment for new employees and eventually forced upon the existing workforce.

This move to strip the working class of any legal rights at work goes hand-in-hand with the introduction last July of charges for bringing a case before an Employment Tribunal.

Any worker bringing a case for unfair dismissal or discrimination at work will have to pay one fee to bring the claim, another fee if the claim actually gets heard, and a further fee if they seek to appeal the decision.

All in all, this could amount to workers having to fork out £1,200 in fees just to bring a case against employers who must now feel safe to break every employment law on the statute book and get away with it, courtesy of the government.

Also on Monday, the TUC announced that it is making a formal complaint against the government for failing to enforce the EU directive on equal rights for temporary staff who have been employed for more than 12 weeks.

Using a loophole in the directive, employment agencies have been avoiding the law and issuing agency employees with contracts that mean agency workers are being paid up to £135 a week less than permanent staff for doing the same job, in complete defiance of the legislation.

The picture couldn’t be clearer – force workers to give up all their rights by either making them accept these ‘employee ownership’ contracts, price them out of seeking any redress through tribunals or just ignore the legislation entirely and force those seeking work to sign up to contracts that guarantee low pay.

With zero-hours contracts rampant throughout the country – over one million are estimated to be on them – the clear intention is to drive the working class back to conditions that existed two hundred years ago, before trade unions and before any legal protection for the working class from the most savage exploitation.

It is not enough for the TUC to make complaints, the time for complaining is long over.

Bankrupt British capitalism can no longer afford any of the rights that workers have won in the past, and is driven to try and smash them all up in a desperate attempt to make the working class pay for its crisis.

Now is the time for the TUC to mobilise the full strength of the trade union movement in a general strike to bring down this government and replace it with a workers government that will guarantee full employment and full rights for every worker.

Any TUC leaders who refuse to lead this fight must be removed and replaced by a leadership prepared to lead this struggle.

Come to the YS lobby of the TUC next Sunday to demand the TUC call a general strike immediately.