LETTER : Free market in labour divides society without creating the job s we need

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The Independent Online
Sir: According to your leading article (2 April) "The Anglo-Saxon model of deregulated labour markets has a much better record for creating jobs than Germany or France". Not so: in the 20 years leading up to the Maastricht treaty, France created proportionately twice as many jobs as the UK, while Germany created almost four times as many. Moreover, an increasing proportion of the jobs created in Britain were poorly paid and insecure, often part-time.

Labour market deregulation, an attempt to compete through "social devaluation", has not helped us to create jobs, to improve our competitive position or to provide sustainable prosperity. But it has had a heavy cost: by 1992, the UK accounted for a quarter of the poor throughout the EU. Another result was the intense insecurity that casts a shadow over the future for so many of our citizens.

As in the US, this insecurity not only creates social tensions. It also inhibits flexibility and economic progress, discouraging people from taking risks. That is why a minimum wage and other employment rights now denied to British citizens could help us compete more effectively in the modern world.

Chris Pond

Director, Low Pay Unit

London EC1