ON THE ROAD TO RUIN! – 4.5m self employed and ‘insidious’ zero-hours contracts

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Young Socialists marching to the TUC Congress earlier this month demanding Jobs for Youth and a general strike to get the Tories out
Young Socialists marching to the TUC Congress earlier this month demanding Jobs for Youth and a general strike to get the Tories out

UK registered unemployment fell by 146,000 to 2.02 million in the three months to the end of July, official figures show.

The figures do not show how many people have been sanctioned off the JobSeeker’s Allowance, but did show that the number of people claiming the JobSeeker’s Allowance in August fell by 37,200 to 966,500.

The official unemployment rate fell to 6.2%, its lowest rate since the September-to-November period of 2008.

Average weekly earnings, excluding bonuses, in the May to July period, rose by 0.7% from a year earlier. Including bonuses, average earnings rose by 0.6%, but this is still much lower than the current inflation rate of 1.5%.

Last month, the Bank of England halved its forecast for annual average wage growth. The ONS said that over the year the number of registered unemployed had fallen by 468,000 – the largest annual fall in unemployment since 1988.

But although the number of people in employment rose by 74,000 to 30.61 million over the quarter, this was the smallest quarterly increase since the April to June quarter in 2013.

Unite commented that the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee should investigate who are ‘the winners and losers’ in the jobs market.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: ‘While the fall of 146,000 in unemployment this month, as you would expect during the summer months, is welcome, it is based on record low pay and rising insecure employment which is blighting economic recovery. Pay is running significantly and stubbornly far behind the rate of inflation.

‘We would urge the Treasury Select Committee to hold hearings to investigate who are the winners and losers in this so-called recovery as it is neither as clear cut, nor as rosy as the government likes to portray.

‘There are serious questions to be asked whether we are on the road to recovery, bearing in mind there are 4.5 million self-employed, the widespread and insidious use of zero-hours contracts, and with hundreds of thousands of young people losing hope of a future with a decent job.

‘We should not forget that, in this week alone, nearly 12,000 jobs are under threat at Phones 4U and Birmingham City Council.

‘A key area for MPs to investigate should be the long-term trends and changes to the UK labour market and who is benefitting or not, and whether these changes are desirable for the future economic health of the nation’s workforce.

‘Unite would be willing to give evidence to such an investigation by MPs. Unite believes that Britain’s workers need a pay rise to generate economic activity, make workers and their families more secure and to lift thousands out of reliance on benefits.’

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Last week the Governor of the Bank of England said the fall in real wages is the worst since the 1920s and today’s figures show it getting worse. Pay increases are less than half the rate of inflation, so living standards keep on falling.

‘We need jobs that ensure everyone gets a fair share in the growing economy through real increases to their wages.’