Monday 29 February 2016

A Brexit vote is a demand for decent jobs

A vote for Brexit on the 23 June 2016 is a vote not just for yourself, but for your children. By leaving the European Union we will be sending a signal not just to those who own the economy, but to those who grovel to them, that the days when we accepted a life of poverty are over. A vote to leave is a vote that makes that statement loud and clear.

When I was a young man there were two types of work: good jobs and jobs. Good jobs were ones with very strong unions, that forced  management scum to pay their workers a very decent screw. By way of contrast, the other sort, the ones I call jobs, were part of the alright category. They  paid an acceptable wage, with a management that still knew enough not to provoke too many fights with the people who created all the wealth, but they were still only just acceptable.

Many people kept at good jobs for life, but hardly anyone did a job for very long for the same employer. Often they would quit on a whim and go wandering along the row after row of factories until they found another place with another foreman who would give them a start. You didn't apply for a job, you asked for a start, and nobody ever expected you to have references. You just asked the foreman for a start, he would look you up and down and then tell you to start on Monday. At some point on that day someone would collect your name and national insurance number, and that was that: you had another job. 

Today, the children and grandchildren of the people who had good jobs or even jobs back then are forced to accept jobs or crap jobs. In other words what was just about acceptable in the 1970s is something that people can only dream about today. For the bulk of the population across a whole swathe of Britain, their working life consists of crappy agency work, interspersed with long, achingly long, periods on the social. 

 Let me tell you a couple of stories, just to illustrate everything that we have lost when we allowed the good jobs to go: 

The first is from about 1977. I was working at a Manchester cinema, and one of the other projectionists became very ill. I did not need any extra money at the time - hard though it may be for younger people to believe, but my regular wage paid more than enough for me to live on quite well enough - but another fellow did need all the money he could get. He and I arranged between ourselves that he would take all the overtime that was going, which meant he worked a double shift of 70 hours a week, and I would just work my normal hours. 

After about two weeks of this, with the sick man about ready to return, the cinema was blessed by a visit from the regional director, or manager, or whatever he was. A parasite who spent his days sitting on his lardy arse, in other words. That bloke asked me why I wasn't working any overtime? Did I think it was right that one man was working a double shift, and so on and so forth? I could have told him the truth, which was that it had all been arranged beforehand, but why should any working man have to tell any two-legged  management cockroach anything? The rule in those days was that if the buggers wanted to know anything then they spoke to the union and waited their sweat for a reply, which is as it should be. 

Without shouting, or losing my temper in any way, I pointed out that until less than a decade earlier all the major cinemas ran with projection boxes staffed with anything up to a dozen men on each shift. It was hardly my fault that to increase company profits, and thus pay useless managers even more money, they had all reduced it to single manning, was it? I went on to say that if the other fellow got tired then they could either bring in someone from another cinema, or close down for a day or so to let him have a rest. I went on to say that actually I was the wrong type to try the emotional blackmail on, since all I cared about was the next wage packet.  

Give that parasite some credit because he actually thanked me for explaining things to him, and promised me that he would never trouble me again. Amazingly enough, he kept his word and never spoke to me again, and if I am not mistaken he never visited the cinema again when I was on duty. 

Most management scum were not as civil, of course, especially those who were lower down the pecking order. The ones who have National Front haircuts, cheap suits, who walked around with a permanent smacked arse expression on their faces: you are familiar with the type, I'm sure.

Dealing with management  was fun back then. I used to collect my pay packet off one of them every week and slowly, ever so slowly, I would count out every last penny that was in the envelope. As I did that I could sense the fury that was building up on the other side of the desk. The point is that thanks to high taxation in those days people like me earned not all that much less than the lump of middle class crap that was supposedly giving me my orders. To say that they didn't like it was putting it mildly, and if I ever did work any overtime, especially if it was at the triple-time rate that the union negotiated for certain special days, then management fury knew no bounds. That was when I would get a sullen, resentful comment to say that I was getting more than them. 

So that was when I told them that I was a worker and they were staff, but not to worry as with their staff position and the right change they could go and buy a pint of beer. Some would go red in the face; others would clench their fists, but not one of them ever said anything by way or reply. They all sucked it up and accepted that causing trouble for a working man was not worth the candle, so they took whatever shit I and other working men chose to give them, like good little middle class boys and girls should. 

What, I hear you cry, has all this got to do with the European Union? The answer is rather a lot, both directly and indirectly. 

Directly it matters because one of the reasons why our country's rulers took us into the European Union was fear of the working class and economic and political clout that we enjoyed in those days. They believed that by tying the United Kingdom down with European rules and regulations, the demands of the unions for ever higher wages could be headed off with appeals to Brussels. The fact that Thatcher came along with the simpler idea of closing British industry down as a way to put the working class in their place, is neither here nor there. Before Thatcherism, when the old slag was just an unknown backbencher, the aim was still one of ensuring control of the economy by putting us down. So whether we are talking about the EU or Thatcher doesn't matter because they are both about the same end, and as we all know, that end has not been good for us.

Indirectly, it matters because if we want to start the long task of recovering our political and economic status it cannot be done while the middle class are able to call all the shots. They will not even begin to make concessions to us until they get back that arse-clenching sense that provoking us would be a bad idea. Look back to how I was able to treat management in the 1970s: do you think that the upper managerial fellow I explained things to back at that cinema didn't want to lose his rag with me for defying him? Of course he did - but he didn't say anything because he knew that the consequences would be dire for him if he did. 

By voting to leave the European Union you will be sending a message to creatures like him that the days of taking insolence from them are over. By voting to leave you set yourself on the road to retribution for the long, dark decades where all you have had between you and the dole office is a shit job, for a shit wage, for a shit gaffer. 

You owe it not only to yourself, but to the generations that are not yet born, to cast a vote in the name of revenge against the people who mock your poverty and want to see your remain stuck in it for all time.

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