Friday, 17 June 2011

Tories Compete to Plumb the Lowest Depths

A few weeks ago I commented on Facebook that the Tories seemed to have discovered a cache of 'The New Statesman' episodes that were rejected for being too outrageous even for Alan B'Stard at the heyday of Thatcherism and were having a competition amongst themselves to see who could propose the most outrageous idea of all.

Today Philip Davies MP (Conservative, Shipley), seized the prize. Christopher Chope MP (Conservative, Christchurch) was front-runner with his private member's Employment Opportunities Bill, aiming to undermine the minimum wage by creating a situation in which it would be legal for individual workers to be bullied into opting out of the Minimum Wage, but Davies leapt into the lead by using the debate on that bill to propose that disabled people should offer to work for less as they "cannot be as productive in their work".

Davies openly acknowledged the disablism that denies disabled people the opportunity to enter the workplace, no matter what the Equality Act might say, but, rather than challenging his Tory-voting chums over their open contempt for the law, proposes that the law should be changed to allow disabled workers to be treated as an underclass of workers, who can expect to see demands that we work for less than the minimum wage if we want a job.

Other Tories were quick enough to condemn him, but words are easy. Davies admitted the awkward truth, that disabled people face near ubiquitous discrimination in finding work. Abusing us off ESA and IB won't fix that, condemning us as scroungers won't fix that, the only solution is to take the fight into the HR departments and the Directors' offices and force them to live up to the promises of the Equality Act (an act Davies voted against).

Are the Tories willing to put their actions where their mouths are? Or did Davies simply say what they really think?


  1. Davis seemed to have said what Tory's really think. Remember NeoLiberalists or NeoThatcherites really don't want to fund a welfare state and they are most certainly kicking us while we are down with cuts that hits the disabled community the hardest. The disabled community is getting hit in health, social care, education, and in many other areas. We have enough issues remaining or even gaining employment let alone the other barriers we encounter in our daily life.

  2. I'm 49 years old, have Asperger's syndrome and have never had a job.

    I need to be able to offer an employer something so that he will at least just consider giving me a job; and I reckon that his being able to pay me less than statutory minimum wage might just do it.

    I doubt I would be any worse off than actually being paid a proper wage because of the complex interactions between the various benefits I receive and the amount of money I have to pay to social services for my care. In effect a wages subsidy would be in operation.

    I desperately want to work, and need to work, so that I can fully contribute to, and participate in, society; and strive to become the best person I'm capable of becoming - and the minimum wage legislation is hindering me in my search for employment.

  3. @Lee: It isn't your fault you can't find a job, it isn't the fault of the minimum wage legislation. The problem lies with the attitudes of the managers you hope will look at you if you offer to work for less than anyone else.

    They might offer you a job, but that won't magically change their attitudes towards disability. And if they don't think you are worth the same as a non-disabled person, if your peers know you only got the job by offering to work for less than the minimum wage, less than them, then what kind of a working environment do you think you will have? Simply getting the job isn't the answer, a job can be hell if the people you work for, or with, don't respect you. If you are looked on as being worth less than other employees then you are likely to be treated that way, given the scut work, the worst attitude, the lowest pay-rises and so on.

    Each disabled person who proposes working for less than the minimum wage weakens our case for demanding equality for all disabled people, for being treated as equals in the the job market, in the work we do, the pay we receive and the respect of those around us.

    And if we can never take that case forward, then we will never be able to fix the attitudes of those around us, to drive the disablism out of the workplace, the HR departments and the director's offices, and ultimately out of society itself.