To my way of thinking George Orwell’s dystopian nightmare vision of society, ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ is on the verge of becoming the norm.
Instead of his fictitious character ‘Big Brother’ being in charge, dictating what will happen, whether we like it or not each and every one of us are being controlled by ‘Big Business’ in its many forms, largely thanks to their sycophantic enforcers – our current crop of politicians.
There was a time not too many decades ago when the business community looked after its lifelong workforce by rewarding their loyalty, often working in conjunction with the various Unions to improve the worker’s lot. No longer.
These days what passes for the union movement in many western nations is largely toothless.
At one time there used to be a marked difference between political party’s. Here in the UK, the Tories have always represented the conservative and business minded, while Labour unashamedly represented the ordinary working man and woman. No longer.
Whether we like it or not, in the relentless pursuit of profit at all costs, many branches of big business, in particular the world’s stock markets and major banking groups, now control every aspect of our lives.
How much longer will the workforce put up with being treated abominably? In effect what we now have is capitalism gone mad! What’s the alternative? Is there one?
Here in the UK we currently have a system where to massage the unemployment figures and please the business community, our politicians have introduced a new concept in the labour market called Zero Hours. It is an employment contract used here which while meeting the terms of the Employment Rights Act of 1996 by providing a written statement of the terms and conditions of employment, does not oblige the employer to provide work for the employee, nor does it oblige the employee necessarily to accept the work offered. Although given today’s climate, you would be a fool to turn it down.
The employee is expected to be on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. He or she only ever receives minimum wages for the number of hours worked.
Zero-hour contracts may suit a tiny minority, but most people in the general working population, including those with mortgages to repay and a family to provide for, run the very real risk of zero money most weeks, thanks to the unpredictable hours and earnings. Is it any wonder that so many people now make use of food banks to feed themselves? I think not.
There is a very real possibility of the use of Zero Hours contracts becoming a tool to reprimand employees for any trifling reason. This raises the issue of how workers can adequately assert their employment rights or maintain decent employment relations.
More and more people are falling under this umbrella these days. While the reduction in unemployment figures may look good on paper, it does nothing for the average man or woman formerly laid off by their previous employer. In effect we have entered an era of slave labour.
Come the next election, I firmly believe that apart from the political headache of Scotland holding a vote to leave the United Kingdom, the current Tory led government will struggle to be re-elected. But what is the alternative to their ‘let them eat cake’ attitude? The Labour party is certainly no longer a viable alternative, being equally as bad as the Tories when it comes to sucking up to big business. That just leaves the wimpish Liberal Democrats or far worse, Nigel Farage’s anti European Union Ukip party.
In my own case, as a pensioner I have to consider whether to feed myself or heat my home during the winter months, thanks to the exorbitant power bills I receive. If you are wondering, I choose to eat.
God help us all…