Letter: The right to work
Thursday 10 December 1998
Of course I will be told that it's the law of the free market - so you mechanise and drive out such jobs as do remain into the cheapest labour market you can find. But the free market is not a law of nature like the law of gravity - it is a human construct that we seem to have got stuck with.
"Ah," the pundits say, "it makes for cheap products, cheap food." But what good is cheap food to the totally pauperised population of a Caribbean island, who have seen their banana market destroyed by the big American companies forcing open the European market, if they have no income to pay for such food?
The industrialist says, "I must reduce my labour force to keep costs down in the global market, and to keep my share price up." This is echoed by the pension fund manager who says, "Otherwise my trustees will sack me." And so we go on playing beggar-my-neighbour. We'll end up with a few giant corporations and a few very rich nations with vast aid budgets when what most people want is a humble job and the ability to buy their own food.
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