on the employment (or lack thereof) situation in the UK.
Then the screaming and finger pointing started and labour ran off to hide after their lack of
research made them a laughing stock.
Chris Bryant stuck his head above the parapet and tried to draw people’s attention to a
problem, however he was shouted at and lost his nerve, rewrote his speech and in my
opinion wasted a chance to get people talking.
The fact that his two examples were both wrong just helped destroy his case and make any
attempt to raise the subject again more difficult.
Everyone was blaming Labour for causing the problem while they were in power and Labour
were so busy doing hand brake turns that they were spinning on the spot and no one will
admit that there is a problem.
Here in Somerset we have a lot of chicken and pork slaughter houses and meat processing plants.
One of the chicken plants outside Taunton is the one that was advertising for workers in Polish
till the ads were hidden. A pork plant out in Wiveliscombe is the place that a few years ago
had the signs in multiple languages and the supervisors sent on language courses along with
the minibus deliveries of the polish workers.
The Distribution centre I spoke of is in Bridgewater.
All of the events I spoke of were a few years ago, more recently working with the MOD they tend
not to do that sort of thing so I don’t know if these companies still behave in the same way but I
suspect they do.
Still this could have been a time to look at the situation in the UK.
Roughly 42 million adults between 16 and 64. Of those just over 29 million are employed and a
large percentage of the employed are in part time or self employed jobs.
If you remember back a while I covered the employment and benefit numbers and 19% of the
people receiving support from food banks were employed but earning too little to fed their
families. That is approximately 100,000 people who are employed but need food charity and
those are just the known figures, working tax credits is a different set of numbers as is housing
Some 5 million people receive working tax credits, this means they earn less that £13 thousand
if single and £18 thousand if a couple.
Does this then mean that approximately 24 million people, not much more than half of the UKs
entire adult working age population are in fact employed in jobs that pay what is considered to
be the minimum liveable wage?
This would have been a good time to have a grown up debate about these numbers.
But then Mr Bryant ran away.
So the situation continues and no one is looking at the numbers.
The problem is not the foreign workers, if you hire a Polish plumber you have the same chance
of getting a good or bad one as you would when hiring an unknown British Plumber. What you
do get is often a cheaper quote. A Polish chap, sharing a house with friends, low overheads,
paying rent, not tied down with a mortgage and with his family back home where the cost of
living is considerably lower has a huge advantage when it comes to charging for his work.
All of this is perfectly Legal.
For that matter it is also legal to hire people in Eastern Europe, bus them to the UK, charge
them rent for a shared house which comes out of their wages and then sell them on to a
company for what amounts to national minimum wage. The agency makes its money out of
charging weekly or monthly rent to the six or eight people they put in each house along with
any other legal “charges”.
It is also legal to move agency workers every 11 weeks so they are not working at a company
for that magic week number when the pay comparisons come in.
The companies get to hire workers at national minimum but are not required to pay benefits,
paid holidays, pensions and all those other costs that make it a lot more expensive to hire
someone than the wage alone would suggest.
Nothing Illegal and yet millions of people in jobs where they are paid less than the level
considered below that which is liveable.
If this continues in a few years we will have half or less of our adult population earning a
For a few hours I was hoping that maybe someone would look at this situation. That maybe
our politicians would talk about what is a growing problem before it becomes insurmountable.
To try and find some sort of solution before we are back to living in the age of Dickens.
The Tories and Lib Dems have shown a complete lack of interest in taking an honest look at
the problem. Now it seems that Labour is not prepared to rock the boat either.
Perhaps they will all learn if this vast group of people take their 15 million plus votes elsewhere.