Zero hour contracts are in the news again, specifically zero hours contracts that have an exclusively clause. What that means is that not only is the worker on a zero hours contract but also when they are not working they are on call for their zero hours employer they cannot work for anyone else. It is the worst of all worlds, and has been condemned by numerous politicians. Here is Ed Milliband, in a speech to the T.U.C Conference in 2013.
“Flexibility yes. Exploitation no…. that is the reality for so many people on zero hours contracts…. they don’t know how many hours they’re going to do from one week to the next. ..they don’t know how much they’re going to be paid. ..they have no security. .. that’s why the worst of these practices owe more to the Victorian era than they do to the kind of workplace we should have in the 21st century. . ..and the next Labour government will put things right. ..and that means security, not insecurity at work.”
(When I was tidying up these posts in July 2015, not editing them, just making them more readable, adding inter web links instead of ungainly URL’s, that sort of thing, I found his speech was no longer available on the Labour party website. One might go as far as to say that the Labour party has done a Stalinist re-writing of history.)
Naturally the Conservatives take a different view seeing zero hour contracts as a necessary tool for business flexibility and as useful part of the economic recovery, which is irrefutable proof they are A BAD THING. I mean what worker wants such fripperies as guaranteed hours meaning a fixed wage, sick pay, holiday pay, maternity leave and pension rights? In other words, all the things that the Coalition are trying to erode. Meanwhile The Labour Party, the T.U.C and various newspapers have come out against zero hours contracts on the grounds they’re exploitative. They see no reason why a worker shouldn’t get a fair days wage for a fair days work.
At least workers on zero hour’s contracts get paid for the work they actually do even if it is a pittance. Even if they sit around on the off chance that they’re called into work, at least they get paid for the work they do. There is one large section of the population who save the government because the government has decided not to pay them.
Of course the Tories see nothing wrong in not paying these workers as there is little chance of a judicial review being pursued or a case bought before the European Court. The government is in the fortunate position of having everything to gain, nothing to lose and very little likelihood of this situation. This army of unpaid workers saves’ the government £119 billion each year.
Or then again, maybe not.
Whatever the true figure is, it is certainly saving billions of pounds, even if the exact amount is contested.
Mind you, different countries have differing meanings of what a billion actually is. Honestly!
In British English a billion used to mean a million million until, like most of the rest of the world, we adopted in 1974, the American English definition of a billion as being a thousand million. Other countries still use the old British English definition.
Anyway, this silent army doesn’t strike nor clamour for better working conditions. Neither do they ask for holiday pay, for the main reason they never have a holiday. By now you will have worked out who this army is. At least, I hope you have! It is of course, the relatives and friends who care for people who cannot care for themselves. And get frustrated by agency staff coming in, sometimes doing the bare minimum as slowly as they can – they must live in fear of a time and motion study! – yet charging handsomely for the rather questionable ‘help’ they offer. And there is a financial incentive for governments neither to acknowledge nor recompense this uncomplaining minority. In a double whammy, whilst it transfers control of payment directly to the client, it prevents the client from paying a friend or relative safe in the knowledge that quite likely are going to do it anyway, so why pay them?
Fortunately I am in the very fortunate position of having a friend who has not just gone the extra mile on my behalf, as run an entire marathon in a world record time. Suffice to say, if it weren’t for their tireless efforts on my behalf you probably wouldn’t be reading this now. So they’re to blame for everything you’ve read and are going to (hopefully) read, not me! The patience and perseverance required to deal with the myriad of agencies that in theory are meant to help one but are in practice frankly something that would test the patience of a something. For truth be told I can’t imagine what that something would be but whatever it is, I’m jolly thankful that my friend has it in abundance and sees fit to expend it on such an undeserving wretch as me. As I said earlier there exist agencies that are meant to help you and in theory that’s true. But in theory time travel is also possible!
It simply beggars belief that a stranger who has no emotional investment in one whatsoever, is going to do any task to the full extent of their capabilities. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve heard a carer say, with well meaning expectation, “Will that do?” One feels like saying, “Of course it won’t. Do I look like a c***!” “But I simply have to think that. Whilst trying as best I cannot to let my face give away what I’m thinking, but as I have a propensity to roll my eyes at the merest provocation, this is no mean feat. But in order to function under the severe limitations under which I find myself, I have to. My previous care agency who were appointed by my local council were to caring what Simon Cowell is to music.
There is also the not inconsiderable fact that the carers have no knowledge of what you were like before you needed them. They don’t know what sort of person you were and what this reversal of fortune has meant to your life. That is why having a friend or a relative doing this for one is incomparably better in terms of both one’s own mental outlook and in terms of capability of the task undertaken. Because I am fortunate to have two friends who knew me before the accident, they know well what an odious reprobate I was and still am which gives them latitude to insult me as much as I insult them. Or nearly as much.
And meeting a prospective carer is rather like speed dating without the exhilarating possibility of sex to follow. In a way, one is a hostage to fortune because they tend to behave in much the same way as prospective housemates. At the interview they say all the things they think you want to hear you know the kind, when you ask them about their domestic habits. Of course they wash up after themselves, they never leave the kitchen looking like a bomb site, the same with the bathroom and other communal areas. However, the reality is much different, as whilst they are not slovenly, neither are they obsessive about cleanliness, as they attempt to strike a happy medium, rather like Doris Stokes.
A friend or relative has no such concerns. One already knows their failings and has forgiven most of them. The remainder one holds in reserve for a rainy day.
My next offering for your delectation will be “The Humpty Dumpty Guide to Friendship”….