Saturday 19 April 2014

Farage on Friday vs. Axe of Reason

UKIP is trending again as they discover social media and push their nonsense as much as possible, and people like me support the trend by posting responses.

Well here is the Estimable Farage's latest burbling in the Daily Diana. 

I am quite unusual for a politician in that I have actual run a business and employed people.

Nigel Farage (sic)

You will find no keener champion of free enterprise and competition than me. But where a few big players dominate things, competition can fail and people can end up getting exploited. So today I want to blow the whistle on an issue that concerns multinational companies exploiting employees. I am talking about the recent trend towards zero-hours contracts for working class jobs.

I wonder what a 'working class job' is.

With so much cheap labour flooding in from abroad, giant corporations are in an increasingly powerful position to dictate terms and conditions for workers.

Labour isn't cheap because it comes from abroad. It's cheap because of the wages that are offered - and employers cannot preferentially hire someone on the basis of their nationality - only their qualifications and experience.

Now zero hours contracts – where no fixed hours are stipulated in advance but employers and employees come to agreement about hours of work available each week or day as they go along – suit some people.

This is not an accurate definition of zero hours. There is usually no consultation - the employee has to make themselves available at all hours, in the event that they are called to work.

Students looking to work a couple of evenings a week, for example. Or parents who are mainly at home but have the odd morning available. It can suit such people to be on call and to be asked the night before whether they can make the next day or the day after that.

So this paragraph is just nonsense!

But while having a zero hours contract as an option is one thing, having it as the only available form of work is quite another. And keeping people on zero hours contracts for year after year when they aspire to stable employment so that they can provide for their families is something else again. I do not believe in banning zero hours contracts. But I do believe there is a very strong case for expecting large employers to sign up to a tough code of conduct as to how they are applied.

OK. Taken out of context, I'd agree with that.

For instance, if an employee proves reliable enough to be working for a big company for a year or more then there should be an expectation that the company will offer him or her a permanent position.

 Mr. F seems to think that zero hours contracts are all temporary. And what is a 'big company'?

At its worst this rapidly proliferating practice reminds me of the way dockers used to have to gather at the dock gates in the 1920s and a foreman would come out and point to those he could use and tell the rest to go home with no money in their pockets. To expect people to pay their bills and raise a family under employment conditions like this is just not on.

He must mean precisely the same way you can see men gathering at street corners any day of the week in Manchester and any other major city in the UK in the hope of some work on a gang.

For small companies I can understand why flexibility can sometimes be the difference between life and death. I am quite unusual for a politician in that I have actual run a business and employed people. But the truth is that most small companies rise or fall on their team-spirit and so the idea of keeping people dangling on zero hours for years at a time is not one that would appeal to many. So we are left with the big battalions. Multinationals that are often foreign-owned and very careful not to pay any more tax than they are legally obliged to. I do not blame them for that – it is the responsibility of the authorities to set the tax regime after all.

So the practice is perfectly acceptable for 'small' companies, paying less than the living wage and relying on the welfare state to subsidise their profits by  making up the shortfall in the pittance they pay? It's perfectly fine for companies to turnover hundreds of millions of pounds in the UK, and yet exploit the law to claim they make no profit and so avoid business rates and taxes, taking from the UK economy and paying nothing back in. Tough luck if you're a cafe owner paying tax and rates, when the Starbucks up the road pays nothing and can undercut your prices, and posts all the cash to Seattle.

But I do say that they should show more responsibility towards those on the shop floor. Often those kept on zero-hours contracts are women with major family responsibilities.

 Ummmm...only women have family responsibilities?

Official ONS figures show rocketing numbers of people employed under zero hours contracts. In 2012 it was estimated that they covered 250,000 workers but last year that estimate more than doubled to 582,000. I have even heard of cases where household name international companies have resorted to expecting workers on zero hours contracts to turn up in the morning and then go home without pay if they are deemed surplus to requirements.

Yes, that is what a zero hours contract is.

That offends my British sense of fair play.

What is a 'British' sense of fair play? How does that differ from a French sense of fair play, a Spanish sense of fair play, or an Indian sense of fair play?

The biggest and most profitable companies can and should do better than that. It surprises me that none of the other political parties appears to want to talk about these excesses. Perhaps it is because these multinationals are the ones willing to back their aim of keeping us in the EU by spouting alarmist drivel about what would happen if we left.

Non-sequitur? Nissan, for example, wants to continue to expand car production in the UK. We are talking here about thousands of well-paid technical jobs in manufacturing. Yet they have said that if we left the EU, they would be forced to relocate.

I have no truck with militant trade unionism – never have and never will. Where over-mighty unions provoke frequent strikes and disrupt production then everyone loses. We must never go back to the bad old days of the 1970s.

Thatcherism and Blairism have prevented any chance of that happening again. And another non-sequitur?

But equally where over-mighty corporations refuse to accept any social obligation towards loyal employees I am moved to cry foul as well.

Now he's talking about 'social obligation' - but the companies have no such obligation to pay their share of taxes, maintain a level playing field in the spirit of 'fair play' and pay the living wage?

Unlimited immigration from Eastern Europe and elsewhere has left many British working people pretty much defenceless against constant downgrades in their pay and employment conditions.

Immigration doesn't downgrade pay and conditions. Lack of regulation on employers and weakened unions does this. It has nothing whatsoever to do with labour coming from other countries - and of course these workers will then contribute to society as we all do through their taxes and consumption, as well as their effect in widening the cultural base of their adopted communities.

My message to them is that while the other parties may have forgotten about you, Ukip is aware of your plight and will speak up for you – however unpopular it makes us with the political class and its corporate allies.

Who is he talking to? And has he actually said anywhere anything about a policy?


  1. I find myself in a state of sickened admiration for this piece. It really is a masterpiece of propaganda, designed to appeal to both the working classes who suffer under zero hour contracts, and to the small business owners who are often as guilty of putting people on these contracts (relax, you're not to blame, it's those nasty *international* companies. And don't worry we won't actually ban zero hours). It offers answers to problems without actually promising any action, and most importantly it associates all the ills of the working and lower middle classes with international organisations.

    Dangerous, and sadly, persuasive guff

  2. Simplifying ZERO hour contracts..I can only see it as a benefit for young people FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME who study,extra cash with parent help also...Wanting a steady income to live and be respected is a NO NO on ZERO HOUR.As for the boss, example,(FACT) Holiday Inn take on student in Uni living with parents,give a two yes two hour contract but let the student work a 40 hour week after graduating,can not find a job that they graduated with,student is paid after working for Holiday INN for 3 years two hours a year holiday pay,..Zero Hour worker have no Statutory Sick Pay,no Statutory maternity or paternity pay,no redundancy pay and as low as 2 hour a year holiday pay..As a BOSS of a worker on a Zero Hour contract,taking basic workers rights away and their dignity. The bank balance looks good but you are SCUM.