Friday, 3 March 2017

The very Ancient and Outmoded Labour Party (Part 2).

I was thinking and I think I've hit what it is about Labour that upsets me. It has failed to be aspirational. Sure, it aspires to be in power, but what after that? Nothing. Maybe it moves the deckchairs around a bit, but nothing truly inspirational. It's fiddling at the margins.

When I say aspirational, I mean for the working class it purports to respresent. What plans does it have to make the lot of the working class better?

A popular policy would be to outlaw zero hours contracts. The heinous things trap people by demanding exclusivity, but not rociprocating by providing a decent working week, every week.

In my mind, exclusivity means the company should pay the worker even though they are not working, because the company they are contracted to is preventing them from working for someone else.

If the company states you cannot work for anyone else, then they should be forced to pay a retainer to the employee. Of course minimum wage legislation means that the employee should be paid minimum wage even if they are not being used.

This is a very similar concept to the IR35 legislation that affected IT contractors.

Ok, a zero hours contract is a step up from employing people as self-emplyed contractors (e.g the so-called "Gig Economy") so the employer pays national insurance etc. but the exclusivity clause means that the employee should be paid for the time they are unable to work for anyone elase.

There should also be legislation aginst penalising people that cannot work at a certain time because they are working for someone else.

The legislation should make the agreement fair and equitable to both parties. At the moment the advantage is all towards the employer.

Another area Labour can help working people is social care. Wages in the social care sector are generally the lowest possible. A vast number of people are working for minimum wage despite having the qualifications and responsibility of administering medication and attending to the social welfare of their clients.

A move to professionalise the social care sector, maybe with union representation is sorely needed, it needs to be brought up to the same status as nursing. Having someone having access to and able to give medication including controlled drugs after a basic one day training course, or worse filling in a questionaire in my mind is just wrong. The discrepancy between social care and the medical profession is massive..

Workers in the care sector need to demonstrate a knowledge of social care and safety legislation. The basic care certificate introduced by CQC goes some way towards this, but more is needed.
More professionalism should improve wages for a sector with some of the poorest. That's what I mean by Labour being aspirational: introducing policies and legislation to improve the conditions of the poorest workers, the ones that are really being exploited.

Of course improved wages in the care sector then increases costs, but as I've previously mentioned, improved professional status will make it easier for the NHS then to take on social care and integrate it with the rest of the NHS, allowing patients in hospitals to be moved out of hospital wards.

A penny or two on income tax or national insurance to pay for the integration of social care budgets into the NHS budget wouldn't be baulked at by the majority of people. It would be a winning policy for Labour.