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A sense of fairness27th of November 2012
Latest news in the UK cleaning sector, from ECJ's correspondent there.
Agitation everywhere about money. There is no doubt that low-paid workers are taking a large slice of the cuts and their meagre income is being affected as is everyone else's.
But they are working and being paid, not enough in these difficult times, but paid nevertheless. There are others in this heap who are described as being in a similar situation sometimes known as the ‘less fortunate’. Is this in fact the case?
There are people going to work, often at anti-social hours, while their neighbours who do not work have their rent and rates paid along with other benefits, and remain in bed or watching the television or even both. An unemployed man or woman getting a job may well have their benefits stopped before they have received a pay packet and even a demand for tax which they should not even have to pay. It is feasible to go home at the end of the week with no money.
Of course there are companies like Pay Day UK or Wonga who will help out with loans at up 4,000 per cent interest. There are also food banks. Makes you proud to have a job, doesn’t it!
Then there are immigrants: A word so dangerous as not to be uttered in case it reaches the ears of the thought police. They generally work and work hard, happy to have a job which according to lore "the British will not do". Will the day ever dawn when the British realise there is no job they cannot do or have to do? While the benefits system remains as unfair as it is, this will not happen.
The cleaning industry is right in the thick of all this. It can and does provide jobs for the unskilled but does not appear to think it is able to pay them very much. There are even employers who believe workers should be grateful for having been given a job at all.
It is said that Vincent Cable, the business secretary, does not believe cleaning is an industry. At least not one where we can talk about skills and ‘moving the nation forward’ in an industrial sense - thus gaining political brownie points.
In order to provide a sense of fairness the cleaning industry has been provided with some funding and thus has grown a training side which has spawned a mini industry of assessment, verification, certification and so forth which gives respectability and adds to employers' costs.
In London - which is the centre of the world according to most of the media and one of the most expensive cities - much has been heard of the Living Wage. Cleaners have protested in hopes of getting it and some cases been rewarded. Many companies it is said have adopted it though as usual no figures are available.
Unfortunately this will lead to an increase in costs which inevitably will be passed to the end user or the "hardworking man and woman" as they are now referred to by politicians currying favour.
Questions aplenty? Answers? Sadly very few. Don’t hold your breath for the answers.