Letter: Business puts profits first

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The Independent Online
RECOGNISING the conflict between the pressures of free enterprise and the demands of family life ('Tory says capitalism wrecks people's lives', 27 June), the Conservative junior minister Alistair Burt makes a novel concession.

The evidence of capitalism requiring many people to spend 'outrageous' hours at work, and the adverse effect this has on their families, is compelling. Mr Burt does not, however, believe in legislation to control working hours, arguing that individuals and companies should act to achieve a change. Surely he must acknowledge that it is precisely because these matters are left to the employer that we now have such Dickensian conditions.

The evidence suggests that many companies, especially during a recession, prefer tactics for a quick increase in the rate of exploitation rather than strategies for longer-term security of their profits. Even less likely is any voluntary corporate concession for humane reasons; philanthropy is not the motor of business.

Gary Slapper

Staffordshire University