UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The myth of the contented slave

Slave Masters justified slavery by claiming that slaves 'were perfectly contented with their condition, and on the whole a much better race without education than with, as they were now faithful, kind-hearted, and attached to their masters, whereas education would destroy all their natural virtues, and make them as vicious as the lower orders in other countries.'

A modern day equivalent of this theory can be found in the conclusions drawn from a ludicrously unrepresentative survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel (CIPD). It claims in its headline grabbing report Zero-hours contracts: myth and reality that ‘Zero hours workers are more likely to be satisfied with their work-life balance than other employees.’

UNISON is right to point out that ‘the CIPD has taken a snap-shot of worker and employer views without some of the context. Many of these new jobs are in the public services and they replace permanent jobs. Staff are being forced onto them against their will or face losing their jobs. They are not suitable for patient safety critical areas such as social care nor do they contribute to good social care. Continuity of carer was found to be important under the Cavendish review and that is difficult to achieve with a zero hours workforce. Not knowing from week to week what money you have coming in to buy food and pay your bills can be distressing. Having your working hours varied at short notice is also stressful and it makes planning, childcare arrangements and budgeting hard.’