But the Tories claim underemployment ‘suits’ people
Conrad Landin in the Morning Star
Tories claimed yesterday that workers toiling on the breadline are only under-employed because it “suits their circumstances” — despite a record 3.4 million scrambling for extra shifts to make ends meet.
A TUC study found that the number of people working part-time because they cannot find full-time work has soared by 432,000 since David Cameron took office in 2010.
In eastern England, the underemployment figure has swelled by a quarter in the past four years, while Wales saw an increase of 21 per cent.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the underemployment figures disproved Tory claims that Britain’s economic woes are over.
“Although unemployment is falling, there are still nearly 3.4 million people who would like to be working more hours than they are,” she said.
“Sadly with part-time, temporary, low-paid jobs often the only work that people can get, underemployment remains stubbornly high and is still rising.
“With no let-up in their financial woes in sight, people are understandably looking to take on more hours just to keep the wolf from the door.
“Without a decent pay rise and the creation of more permanent, secure jobs, under-employment is unlikely to fall any time soon.”
But a spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions, which is run by arch-Thatcherite Iain Duncan Smith, brazenly slammed the TUC figures as “misleading.”
He said: “The overwhelming majority of those working part-time do so because it suits their circumstances, for example students or those with caring or parenting responsibilities.
“Independent statistics show that there are over 100,000 fewer people who say they are underemployed compared to a year ago, and that full-time jobs account for more than three-quarters of the rise in employment since 2010.”
But Left Economics Advisory Panel convenor Andrew Fisher hit back, warning that the TUC figures were “only part of the picture of insecure low-pay Britain.”
He said: “Alongside this are growing numbers of young workers on low-paid, low-quality apprenticeships or in unpaid traineeships or internships.
“The low pay and insecure status of this growing band of underemployed workers is subsidised by tax credits and housing benefit to provide just a semi-dignified existence, while their under-utilised talents are wasted in low-skill jobs.
“This is the grotesque inefficiency of modern capitalism.”