Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Rural labour

It is a privilege to live in deepest East Sussex. At least it is for some. But just because it is leafily beautiful and peaceful does not make it a privilege for all. Yes, there are landed estates which have been in the same families for generations [why?] but yes too there are unemployed and disadvantaged residents. No doubt on the privileged estates workers have only this year seen the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board, offering employers "more flexibility" in the Terms and Conditions they may apply. Read this from the other viewpoint and it equals the removal of rights to paid holidays and sick pay.
Housing is expensive in the affluent South-East, where "commuting" may be by helicopter for some, but cannot even be by public transport for others in hamlets remote from main routes. Jobs are few anyway, so the hunt for them requires travel too.
An enquiry last week of a County Councillor elicited no plans - perhaps no awareness of the Living Wage. Surely this at least is a policy which even his Party could espouse? All over the country, councils are becoming Living Wage employers, to ensure that their staff have decent lives. More than this, Living Wage Councils are ensuring that their procurement requires contractors to adopt this principle too, as a prerequisite for the contract award, even for freelances. This is a start. Can we not put this principle to all Councils; all employers? Its about human decency rather than party politics. For this reason it should be mandatory, nationally; but until it is, lets pressurise our democratic representatives regardless of allegiance to demand payment of decent wages - the Living Wage.
Tom Serpell

No comments:

Post a Comment