Yesterday, in an article on the Huffington Post, I read quotes from Sir Stuart Rose, CEO of Ocado and Lance Batchelor, CEO of Domino's, in relation to immigration and the British work ethic. To be quite frank, I was incredulous.
These men are no doubt highly intelligent individuals, with an intrinsic understanding of the political and economic aspects of both free trade and the labour markets.
So why are there glaring omissions in the statements which they have made? To me, they somehow seem to be insinuating that the seething underclass spend most of their time whining about immigrants while sitting on their lazy backsides, watching Sky and point blank refusing to take up the wonderful working opportunities which they have gracefully bestowed upon us.
Now, as a lowly member of said underclass, you'll have to forgive me. My analysis has not been informed by years of practice in either politics or business. However, as someone with a basic grasp of logic, I think I can still point out some of the more obvious oversights.
Firstly, Domino's are notorious for their use of zero-hour contracts. Therefore the jobs which Lance Bachelor expects us all to be scrabbling for offer absolutely no stability or security. I once worked for a company who used them and I can tell you that zero hours contracts are the work of the devil. The official line was that they offered greater flexibility to our employees. The truth was very simple; our income stream was unstable and we needed to be able to make staffing cuts at very short notice.
The reality was that employees struggled to find housing as they could not verify a stable income. They were not used for teenagers living at home with their parents, or for those who required flexibility in their working hours. Basically, they were used because employees were desperate enough to accept the terms.
Secondly, I have no doubt that the tax credits system, funded by taxpayers, will have to subsidise the low levels of income provided by these jobs. There is a huge scandal in the US at the moment which relates to the low levels of pay within Walmart and the fact that employees are reliant upon food banks and medicaid. We live with exactly the same situation, except that tax credits were sold to us in a far more palatable fashion.
Yes, we do have a minimum wage. However, in London, it is impossible to live on this. The government even 'encourages' employers to pay the minimum 'living wage' of £8.80 per hour, in comparison to the actual figure of £6.31 (for those over 21). Unsurprisingly, neither Dominos nor Ocado are accredited by this scheme. Which is why it is particularly galling to hear that Bachelor expects his potential employees to choose to live in poverty in order to work for his company.
Sir Stephen Rose is quoted as saying "I think there are a lot of people who complain about their lot" and "I did a lot of menial jobs when I was young. I didn't worry about the status of the job I was more worried about my self-esteem and the fact I had a job. I fact I would look myself in the mirror and say 'I've earned a few bob'."
Perhaps he would like to consider the fact that most people would consider refusing to enter a contract which exploits them as a reasonable measure of self-esteem? Or are we supposed to be so desperate as to feast upon whatever scraps corporations are willing to chuck us?
Thirdly, money earned in the UK is worth more in other countries. If you're willing to live in crowded housing to provide for a family living elsewhere, fine. If you want to use your wages here to support a family, or have even a basic lifestyle, they are next to worthless.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, the government are still encouraging aspiration and further/higher education for young people. This means that no-one wants to work in these fields regardless of their actual ability. I used to analyse statistics for a local authority. It was commonly known that people were not made aware of the type and number of job vacancies available either nationally, or where they lived.
When young people are not even made aware of the demands of the labour market, how on earth can we expect them to make an informed choice about the fields which they plan to enter?
To be fair, Sir Stuart Rose has previously raised this issue in the Telegraph, which is why it beggars belief that he is making such sweeping statements about the majority of working age people.
Don't get me wrong, there is no doubt that there are people within this country who do not believe that they should have to work. We all know it. However, those people are in the minority. Trying to blame and shame those who are unwilling to be exploited while hiding behind talk of self-esteem and work ethic is downright disgusting.
Due to the fact that there are competing agendas within each of the areas mentioned, there is no easy resolution to this issue. The education department wants all children and young people to raise their aspiration. People do not aspire to work for Dominos, or Ocado.
People do have concerns about immigration and although there can be an element of ignorance and racism, the simple truth is that we are overpopulated and we all know it. Corporations expect those of working age to slave away for them while living in poverty, in order to ensure that they can retain a profit margin and keep their shareholders happy. If we won't do it, they want to continue to flood us with immigrants who are willing to be exploited.
Corporations will always argue that it is the fault of the consumer for demanding low prices. Unless we are made aware of exactly who has been exploited to achieve these prices, this will continue.
The government, in its infinite stupidity, has allowed the situation to degenerate to this level. Anyone with half a brain can see the truth. Dragging out a couple of rich entrepreneurs to tell us that it's all our fault isn't quite going to cut it.....