COMMENT: Why Tory pledges dressed up as workers' rights are a sick joke at your expense 5 years ago

COMMENT: Why Tory pledges dressed up as workers' rights are a sick joke at your expense

It takes some cheek to spit in someone's face and tell them it's essentially the same as a sloppy kiss.

Theresa May believes that the working classes are revolting, against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, and so she is attempting to win over their grubby votes with a number of manifesto pledges aimed directly at the great unwashed she has no intention of meeting during her election campaign.


The headlines on Monday morning heralded the "greatest expansion in workers’ rights by any Conservative government in history", with special focus on the key pledge to allow all of us time off from work - up to 52 weeks in fact - to care for our elderly relatives. How absolutely wonderful, considerate and spiffing of them.

What none of these triumphant headlines make clear is that a maximum of one year off work to tend to your loved ones would be completely unpaid, which is something akin to telling a bald man that he has the right to use a comb. It may be true and factually correct, but it is also largely useless and very fucking cruel.


Firstly, there's an utter disregard for how most people could possibly afford to look after themselves - never mind anyone else - were their salary to be paused for any length of time. If we assume the 'pledge' is targeted to those below average income, they're unlikely to have a handy trust fund or significant savings to lean on.

Secondly, the right to return to work (and actual money in your bank account) after a year off caring for someone isn't really a 'right' if it can't be properly implemented. What May is essentially doing is wafting a big juicy carrot in front of working people in the hope that they won't realise it's just a stick she painted orange.

Since the Tories introduced employment tribunal fees of between £400 and £1,200 to contest work disputes, the number of claims going to tribunal has dropped by over 70% in the first year. According to an Oxford University report, the hardest hit have been low-income, zero-hours workers, for whom payouts wouldn't even cover costs. Up the workers indeed.


Thirdly, the whole concept of 'allowing' you to look after the people you love, without any money to help you to do this, is fucking sick. It is yet another example of the government taking the hollow notion that 'We're all in this together', and corrupting it to more realistically mean 'You better look after your fucking selves because we sure as hell won't'.

Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that spending by councils on social care per adult fell by 11% between 2009 and 2016. Six-in-seven councils made at least some cut to their social care spending, and one-in-ten made cuts of more than a quarter. Someone needs to be pick up this slack, and that someone is you - with zero pay.

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The cheek of dressing the whole thing up as a favour for lower income working people is a fucking liberty. What the Tories have stumbled upon with the rollout of Universal Credit is that desperate people in severe poverty have a very convenient way of dealing with it all - they help each other out. Hence the depressing and shameful proliferation of food banks.


This 'blitz spirit', in a time of peace and obscene wealth for the top rung of society, allows the government to essentially leverage human kindness in order to make further cuts. The crueler they are, the more astounding the generosity of normal people who don't have all that much to start off with.

The Trussell Trust's findings show that over a million three-day emergency food supplies have been given to people in crisis in the past year, with 436,000 of those going to children. Food banks in areas of full Universal Credit rollout have seen a 16.85% average increase in referrals for emergency food - more than double the national average of 6.64%.

For basic food to live now see essential care to survive. The NHS is desperately underfunded and clearly on its knees; social care spending is being phased out at an alarming rate. So who is left to look after the sick and the elderly? People like you, forced to give up your job and income for however long it takes, in the vain hope that you can argue for it back for a fee.

This isn't about workers' rights at all, it's about further demands on us all to look after the people we love with no help from anyone else. It's all crooked lies, happily propagated by the right-wing press, in order to get turkeys to vote for Christmas - and cruelly pay for the stuffing.