wages

Wishy-washy review won't fix gig economy

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What has happened to employment in the modern era of the “gig economy” and “zero hour contracts”? And what should be done about it?

The Taylor Review, or “Good Work: The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices” to give it its full title, was supposed to answer these questions. However, its arrival on 11 July was something of a damp squib.

Anatomy of a strike victory

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The current spate of local disputes provides a glimpse of the potential for a fightback. Donny Gluckstein reports on the successful strike at Edinburgh College.

The strike of further education lecturers at Edinburgh College has been described as "a classic example of how to conduct a strike" by the executive of the EIS, the Scottish education union. The bare outlines of what happened make impressive reading.

Do Migrants lower wages?

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The notion that immigration is putting workers' wages under pressure is widely accepted even among some on the left. Yet this argument is both dangerous and wrong.

In January a much-quoted official study found "nominal wage growth below the rate of price inflation has resulted in real wages falling for the longest sustained period since at least 1964". The figure would have been even more shocking if comparable statistics were available for earlier periods. Many economists agree that British workers are facing the longest fall in their living standards since the 1870s.

Why read Wage-Labour and Capital?

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Wage-Labour and Capital is online at http://bit.ly/187qEer

Karl Marx's pamphlet Wage Labour and Capital first appeared as a series of articles in Neue Rheinische Zeitung, the newspaper that Marx edited during the 1848-9 revolution that swept Germany and Europe.

The articles were based lectures that Marx had given to German workers in Brussels in 1847.

Marx's aim in the pamphlet is to set out and explain "the economic conditions which form the material basis of the present struggles between classes."

The welfare stakes

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The Tories want to do a lot more than just slash public spending. They want to fundamentally recast the nature of the relationship between the state and society. Charlie Kimber looks at what's at stake in the government's plans for the welfare state

The slogan "Stop the cuts" is absolutely natural and correct for the demonstrators on 26 March and after, as it was for those who besieged town halls last month. The battle against the £81 billion of public spending cuts is the central issue for all of us.

The governor and Kenn Dodd

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When the governor of the Bank of England starts quoting madcap 1970s comic Ken Dodd it must be a sign that things are not quite right, economically-speaking.

But that's precisely what Mervyn King did in a speech to business leaders in Newcastle on 25 January. The Dodd quote (about happiness, predictably enough) was rather less important, though, than the rest of what he had to say, which was centred on an examination of why the cost of living has risen and how this has affected people's incomes.

Mobilise against system

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The protests that have shaken Greece are a sign of things to come. Initially over the shooting of a teenager by police in Athens, demonstrations and riots spread across the country, threatening the future of the government and crystallising the depth of bitterness and anger among working class people.

A deep economic crisis of the sort not seen in most of our lifetimes, following from a credit fuelled boom which failed to deliver for many people, creates a highly explosive situation. Inequality has grown, workers are under greater pressure of exploitation, and there is an ideology which repeatedly blames those at the bottom for everything that goes wrong in their lives.

Economic crisis: making us pay

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To read the papers in recent weeks you might be forgiven for assuming that car workers' wage levels and public sector pensions caused the financial crisis currently wreaking havoc across the globe.

In an unrelenting effort to make working class people pay for the crisis, the fat cat bankers are forgotten as workers in the US, Britain and across the rest of Europe are told the only way out of the crisis is to accept pay cuts, three-day weeks and unpaid "holidays". One proposal to 2,200 workers at the Vauxhall plant at Ellesmere Port was that they take a nine-month "sabbatical" on 30 percent of their pay. How anyone is meant to pay their mortgage and support themselves and possibly a family on 30 percent of their pay is not examined.

Tube cleaners: a strike for freedom

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I was an activist from a young age. As a student in Nigeria I was secretary of the national students' organisation in my university. I had a political background - I lived with a political uncle and he was my inspiration.

When I came to England, and into the cleaning industry at London Underground (LU), the first thing I found was that the cleaners were predominantly black. That was a motivation, seeing what they were being subjected to. It reminded me of my background.

I got involved and felt I could be part of the struggle. I saw it as a set of people under slavery. It was not just about the money but their oppressive situation, and I felt there was a need for liberation.

What's behind Brown's pay freeze?

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As public sector unions organise to resist Gordon Brown's pay freeze Kevin Devine asks what lies behind the government's obsession that higher wages cause inflation

Gordon Brown was more direct than usual in his response to a parliamentary question on the possibility of negotiations in the postal dispute. But he didn't say he welcomed the prospect of talks. "We must... tackle inflation, and people have to accept settlements that will ensure that inflation is low in the years to come," he said. "All workers should look at pay settlements as a means by which we can conquer inflation."

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