From employment tribunal costs to the ludicrous offer of unpaid leave for carers, the government’s attitude to workers is crystal clear.
Theresa May has not donned a Mao Zedong cap and proclaimed: “Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.” OK, not quite. But she has been saying that she will extend and protect workers’ rights. Her party, the party of union-busting, boss-supporting deregulation will now stand up for the workers. This is a Tory party now seeking to take over Labour’s turf.
That turf, patchy of late, needs a bit of loving care. The disenchanted working class is the holy grail for vote-catchers, although no one actually seems to like its members. Still, working-class people must apparently ditch their life-long suspicion of the Tories and succumb to Theresa’s tick-box mentality.
Her strength will protect them when little else can. That’s the gambit. As we leave the EU, many employment rights could be swept away.
In a time of insecurity, what is being offered here? Certainly not wages – the increase in minimum wage that they’ve suggested will be tied to average earnings, which means it’s likely to be a minimal increase. Instead of wages, May’s offer is to those already in secure employment: that they can take a year off unpaid to care for a relative. They can also take two weeks off if one of their children dies: a whole two weeks! See, she is human after all.