Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We're all simpletons

Mass public sector redundancies will mean more "freelancers" available, the experts tell us.

In the last few days the British press enjoyed having a pop at Greece and the rest of Europe, quickly forgetting -obviously- the humongous impact of the downturn on the UK. Suddenly it's as though none of it ever happened.

But then look at yesterday's news reports announcing that, with the recession far from over, we're about to witness major redundancies in the public sector. Two weeks ago, Birmingham City Council announced around 1,300 job cuts.

Now, according to a survey carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and business advisers KPMG, many employers are in the process of sticking thousands of redundancy notices through the letter box.

Covering the news, yesterday's Today programme on BBC Radio 4 summoned up a certain expert (I can't remember his name) who reiterated that the redundancies are not going to be a bad thing and that every cloud has a silver lining etc.

Apparently, the pain of having public workers joining the dole queues will be cancelled out by a rise in the number of "freelancers", the good old word that, in the early days of the Blair government, was dangling from the gob of every politician even though it simply means "casual".

When the Radio Four chap pointed out that those "freelancers" won't have any job protection or pension scheme of any kind, the "expert" retorted "Oh but no. It's going to be a business to business relationship" without elaborating - of course. Yes, I know you're smelling something. And that must be the copious amounts of bullshit. Because even a 5-year-old would grasp that a desperate casual or agency worker would sign up for anything, forget pension schemes and guarantees.

This fake one-way optimism, however, is in line with the general assumption that the British public is a collection of simpletons who would swallow up anything.

Like, we've lost count of headlines announcing "the recovery", and it may as well be the case for a few shareholders. Yet we learnt today that the UK rate of inflation rose up to 3.5% (Consumer Prices Index -CPI) or 3.7% (Retail Prices Index -RPI) in January. And this is why pay freezes are being imposed left right and centre, with rises in 2010 expected to range between zero and 2.25 per cent. That is, only for fuckers like me or you, not for executives.

To a lot of people whose rent, utility bills, food shopping and transport are going to eat further into their wages this word - recovery - may end up sounding a little bit hollow.

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