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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 October 2014

The myth of 'self-employment'

Mike Cleverley, Waltham Forest Socialist Party

If, like me, you have friends or relatives in the construction industry, you will know exactly what the Tories mean when they boast about the number of workers they have got "off benefits and into work" or the rise in the number of 'new businesses' created under the Coalition.

My relative works as a 'hoddie' - an unskilled labourer who carries bricks, mixes 'muck' or mortar and keeps the site tidy. He will be working alongside up to four 'brickies' keeping them supplied with materials. He is 'self-employed'.

No rights

This means he is paid by the day and has no holiday or sick pay. He gets no payment for bank holidays unless he works, and then no premium rates. I look forward to Christmas. The self-employed 'hoddie' doesn't - he will have up to two weeks with no pay at all for the days the sites are closed!

Building workers are required to wear safety boots, gloves, helmets and hi-vis jackets. All of this must be bought by the worker before he can even start the job. Many workers who have been out of work have no choice but to borrow from the likes of Wonga to afford this essential equipment.

Construction is one of the most dangerous industries, not merely accidents but exposure to dangerous chemicals and dusts. Sites are required to keep 'incident books' where accidents and near accidents can be recorded.

Every building worker on these kind of contracts knows that when the job is finished they will be thrown back to seek work elsewhere, unless they get moved to a new site. So it is essential that your name doesn't appear in that 'incident book'. The industry can boast about better safety mainly because the paperwork paints a rosy picture. But the reality is very different. Workers struggle on with back pain, cuts and bruises which should get attention but often don't.

Building workers need strong fighting unions to defend them and representatives at every level who know the hardships of the job. They also need a planned economy which would build the homes we all need so desperately and where building workers' safety and regular incomes could be assured. Only a socialist society can even begin to provide homes and decent working conditions for those whose labour will create them.

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In The Socialist 15 October 2014:


Britain needs a pay rise

Fight for mass action to end cuts and low pay

A socialist world is possible

Mark Serwotka: Building a strong, fighting union


Fight the cuts!

Workers need a new party

How a mass campaign stopped the cuts

Challenging the austerity parties

Barking and Dagenham council at a crossroads


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories and Labour in crisis after Ukip win

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

Ireland: Stunning byelection victory for Socialist Party

Obama's strategy to beat IS lies in tatters


Socialist Party workplace news

First NHS pay strike for 30 years

Local government pay: reject offer, reinstate action!

Care UK workers mark 81st strike day

600 St Mungo's housing workers to strike for a week

Recycling workers strike over pay and conditions

Severfields engineers strike against bonus cut


Youth Fight for Jobs

Young workers say: decent jobs now

The myth of 'self-employment'


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

'Political awakening' continues in Scotland

On the road to higher wages

Coventry fans stung by Wasps

Johnson's housing crime scene


Building the Socialist Party

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