Labour attacks the jobs that don't last

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The Independent Online
The number of redundancies has doubled and more than half of the newly unemployed had a job that lasted less than a year, according to a Labour Party analysis published today as part of its campaign on job insecurity.

The figures, compiled from official sources, show that between the winter of 1994/95 and last winter there was an increase of 106,000 in the number of redundancies in Great Britain. This took the total during the December- February quarter to 225,000, back near its level two years earlier.

There were particularly big increases in the numbers made redundant in Greater London, the West Midlands, the North and Scotland.

In addition, 58 per cent of people making a new unemployment-related benefit claim between October 1995 and January 1996 had claimed benefit less than 12 months previously. In some regions the proportion was far higher, rising to nearly two-thirds in the North.

Labour claimed the figures were further proof of the existence of a "revolving door" economy characterised by growing insecurity despite the drop in the unemployment total. Shadow Employment spokesman Ian Macartney said: "Officially the number of people unemployed and claiming benefit may be falling, but only months after they signed off the dole many thousands of people are finding themselves back in the JobCentre again."

He added: "Skilled, well-paid and full-time jobs are still disappearing in every area of the country, and new jobs are mainly poorly paid, insecure and temporary."

The Labour claims follow government attempts to play down the idea that falling unemployment has been achieved at the cost of casualising the labour force. Treasury minister William Waldegrave recently pointed to figures indicating that the average length of tenure in a job had fallen very little over recent years, and had actually risen for women.

However, a growing body of research points to the existence of a low- pay ghetto from which people find it difficult to escape into more secure and rewarding jobs.

A recent study by Paul Gregg and Jonathan Wadsworth, researchers at the London School of Economics, reported that the earnings gap between entry jobs for the unemployed and the stock of jobs held by the majority in work has widened enormously.

Nearly a third of entry jobs filled by the non-employed pay less than a quarter of median weekly earnings. The typical entry job pays about pounds 100 a week.