Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Insecure work : destroying families, causing deaths

These claims might sound extreme. But in my experience of working with people in insecure jobs, both statements are true.

According to the ONS, 42% of marriages end in divorce.

There are no reliable statistics about the causes of divorce.  I speak to union members all the time about problems they have at home. Often they will tell me they separated due to arguing all the time. But let's look at the pressures that cause them to argue....

Insecure work means you don't know if your next pay packet is your last one.  That places huge pressure on a family, including inevitable rows about money.  It's hard enough when you have secure work that is badly paid.  But insecure low pay is a total nightmare when it comes to holding your family together.

Most Agency and zero hour workers are at the beck and call of the employer.   Will Dad be OK to watch his son play footie for the school team a week on Thursday?  Dad doesn't know.  It might be awkward or unwise to ask.  When you are desperate to keep the money coming in, it can be hard or unwelcome to ask for time off.   Can the daughter do the Ballet class she'd love?  Well, can she? The parents may argue about that if income is insecure.  It's far harder for any member of the family to do normal things that most people can do. The pressure this places upon families is terrible. Obviously, it also causes unhappiness.

There has been so little debate about why our kids are amongst the unhappiest in the world. This shames us all.  The media have tended to blame parents, eg excessive screen time.

But millions of Mums and Dads are doing **** jobs and are exhausted. With shift work, they may rarely see each other.  Family meals may be a rarity, if at all.   Kids may have excessive screen time, but that's no surprise if there's little chance of family outings, quality family time or cash to do something.

Without doubt, insecure work pressures families and breaks families.

I don't believe any of what I've posted so far can be disputed.

But perhaps controversially. I also believe insecure work is killing people.

It is known that bad employers can be responsible for horrific injuries and fatalities in the workplace. But that's not what I'm talking about.

Agency workers often don't get smear tests.  Neither do zero-hour workers.  That's just one example.

For those with insecure work, it's risky to ask for time off.  Not all the 2.5 million or so workers in this position have it so bad that they can't get a smear test.  But many do, and I see it all the time in my East Staffs patch as a Union official.

Common sense tells me that insecure work results in people not being diagnosed soon enough with serious conditions.  This, of course, results in needless deaths, family crises and additional pressures on public services.  Many people think insecure work is a temporary thing, but most "placements" with an Agency last years, and could and should be proper, permanent jobs.

These issues are not trivial.  The march towards casual UK Plc ("flexible labour markets") will get worse so long as we have a Conservative government.

Conservative politicians say they are the party of the family.  A grotesque lie, straight from the political wing of global hedge funds and big business. Sickening.

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