Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Tory Hypocrisy

When the activities of someone like Philip Green at BHS provokes widespread public anger, Tory politicians and the Tory media wring their hands, and say how terrible such activity is.  When Channel 4 News or some other investigation shows that Sports Direct, or JJB Sports are treating their workers like modern day serfs, the Tory politicians and the Tory media again wring their hands.   But, the hand wringing, and crocodile tears never leads the Tories to take any real action against these employers, because at the end of the day, they believe that they capitalists have a right to make big profits, and if the only way to achieve that is by workers suffering poverty wages, and inhuman working conditions so be it.  So, when workers themselves take action against the employers and resist attempts to make big profits at the expense of workers wages, conditions, or safety, as they have been doing on the railways, airlines, post offices etc. the apoplectic response of the Tory politicians and of the Tory media is thoroughly hypocritical but wholly in line with their ideological standpoint.

When the Tories go into raptures about the rise in employment, mostly accounted for by the number of workers forced into the low paid jobs such as those at Sports Direct or JJB Sports, or a myriad of other similar firms, therefore, they have no concern that the wages that these workers receive are so low that they are barely better than subsistence levels of benefits on the dole, and only sustainable on the basis of those low wages being supplemented by a range of welfare benefits paid for out of the taxes of other workers.  The Tories claim that they believe in making work pay is sheer cant.  When they say that it is a good thing that employment levels have risen, what they mean is that it is a good thing for all of the cheapskate employers who make large profits out of employing all these additional workers, on poverty wages.

We are continually told by the Tories and the Tory media that the multi-million pound stipends that the Chief Executives of companies are paid, reflect the value that such individuals add to the company.  Again, a look at the Philip Greens, the Fred Goodwins and many more, hardly supports the Tories hypocritical thesis.  In reality, if any of these executives were to take a day, a week, or even a month off work, the vast majority of society would be none the wiser.  Yet, let railworkers, airline staff, or post office workers stop work for just a day, and the Tories and the Tory media fly into a panic telling us that these workers, who generally they tell us are a mere sideshow compared to the executives who add so much value that they have to be paid thousands of times as much as such workers, are holding the country to ransom!  If it is the executives who create the real value in the company then surely it should matter very little if mere workers withdraw their labour for a short period.

And again, the attitude of the Tories shows their hypocrisy.  Workers have only one commodity to sell - their labour-power, which means from the start they are at a disadvantage compared to capital, particularly as workers have to sell their labour-power in order to live.  Yet, despite the most restrictive union laws in Europe, and the number of days lost to industrial action being at historic low levels, the Tories and the Tory media, are baying for even more restrictions on the rights of workers to determine where and when, and at what price they will sell their labour-power.

When firms use increased demand for their commodities to raise prices, when they use the most advantageous times of the year to raise those prices and so on, the Tories and the Tory media look on approvingly, because that is the way that firms are able to maximise their profits.  But, when workers do the same thing, by withdrawing their labour at the most advantageous time for themselves to be able to negotiate higher wages, the Tories are outraged!

Its ironic that the areas that voted most heavily to leave the EU, are in those left behind old urban areas, where major industries have disappeared, and a range of warehouses like those of Sports Direct and JJB Sports have sprung up in their place.  Its in such places that the workers need strong unions to stand up for them against these Dickensian employers.  Yet, one reason that right-wing Tories, Ukippers like Paul Nuttall and their supporters in the Tory media wanted to leave the EU was so as to be able to undermine trades unions and workers rights further!

And here there is more hypocrisy.  The Tories have already introduced, via the Trades Union Act, a requirement for minimum turnouts, and minimum majorities, for trades union ballots to be valid prior to a strike, whilst also refusing to allow electronic ballots, which would increase turnout.  Yet, if the EU referendum were conducted on the same basis that the Tories have imposed for strike ballots, the referendum would have resulted in Britain staying in the EU.

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