CIPD: Growing class and wealth divide ‘sends social mobility into reverse’. Britain is witnessing a regeneration of the class society in which “social mobility has hit reverse”, the leader of the Trades Union Congress has warned.
In her opening address to congress today (Monday 8 September), Frances O’Grady compared today’s society to the ITV drama series, Downton Abbey, in which “living standards of the vast majority are sacrificed to protect the high living of the well to do”.
“Under this government, class prejudice is becoming respectable once again,” she said.
O’Grady suggested that hard working people were yet to see the signs of economic growth in their pay packets, and while unemployment levels continued to decrease, the jobs created were too often low paid and insecure.
The TUC leader called for the proceeds of growth to be shared more fairly.
“Are we going to settle for a nastier and poorer Britain? Where the blame is heaped on the most vulnerable – migrants and claimants – while the powerful and the privileged sit pretty,” she said.
“Or are we going to seize our opportunity, and build a new and fair economy that provides the people of this country with good, skilled, secure jobs?”
The TUC reiterated their stance that the introduction of tribunal fees is helping to widen the social divide, creating a class system that “bears down on working people’s voice and aspirations”.
Describing trade unionism as “friendship between working people”, O’Grady again called into question the “anti-democratic” Conservative Party plans to reform strike laws in Britain, which could see a minimum turnout threshold for union votes, and stricter terms and conditions on how, why and when unions can propose industrial action.
Plans to make strikes illegal unless 50 per cent of union members take part in ballots, was a “threshold that no other democratic election in Britain is required to meet”, O’Grady said, leaving unions “with about as much power as Oliver Twist”.
Labour leader Ed Milliband, praised trade unions for “fighting alongside Labour for social justice”. But Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said it was “vital” that Miliband “joins Conservative calls to help put an end to the ability of militant trade union leaders to demand strike action without the majority of their ordinary hardworking members”.
“The real threat to people’s living standards is the return of a Labour government, bought and paid for by Frances O’Grady and her union colleagues,” a spokesman for the party said.
“Nothing could hurt Britain’s future more than Ed Miliband as Prime Minister, marching to the unions’ tune,” they added.