According to the latest official figures unemployment now stands at 7.9% after soaring between December and February to 2.56 million, an increase of 7,000; the proportion of people in work has subsequently slumped by 2,000 to just under 30 million. These statistics fail to tell the whole story as the massive sum of under-employed workers who need full-time wages in order to survive, but are ineligible for top-up benefits because of the short hours they work, are not recognised by established government numbers.
Britain’s consumers are crippled by low wages and inflated prices for essentials such as home heating or rent; retail sector growth has slowed in turn as minimal spending has led to a staggering scale of High Street shop closures. The gloomy prospects for workers in Britain took another grim twist in the government’s cruel Enterprise and Regulatory Reform bill, which is specifically designed to make sacking employees cheaper, in addition to introducing extortionate charges for redress. This legislation, which also permits employers to shut down larger workplaces with limited employee consultation, has already been approved despite minor public awareness. Trade unions must unite in mobilising workers of both public and private sectors against this silent erosion of living standards, through a co-ordinated campaign of industrial action, before there is nothing left to fight for.
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