How bad is global inequality, really?

Local Futures

Most everyone who’s interested in global inequality has come across the famous elephant graph, originally developed by Branko Milanovic and Christoph Lakner using World Bank data (see below). The graph charts the change in income that the world’s population have experienced over time, from the very poorest to the richest 1%.

We can update the elephant graph using the latest data from the World Inequality Database, which covers the whole period from 1980 to 2016 using a method called “distributive national accounts”. Here’s what it looks like in real dollars (MER), developed in collaboration with Huzaifa Zoomkawala:

The elephant graph has been used by some to argue that neoliberal globalization has caused inequality to decline since 1980. After all, it would appear that the biggest gains have gone to the poorest 60% of the world’s population, whose incomes have grown two or three times more than those of the richest 40%.

But this impression can be misleading. It’s important to recognize that the elephant graph shows relative gains, with respect to each group’s baseline in 1980. So the poorest 10-20th percentile gained 82% over this period. That sounds like a lot, on the face of it. But remember that they started from a very low base. For people earning $2.40 per day in 1980, their incomes grew to no more than $4.36 per day… over a period of 36 years. So, about 5 cents per year. [ … 433 more words]

Full post

Advertisements

‘Welcome to hell’

scottish unemployed workers’ network

Jim was far from happy when we met him. Rules governing UC claimants who are in irregular employment were making his life a misery, and making him question the whole point of working. Jim, however, is no ‘skiver’, that largely mythical creature, so beloved of Tory ministers and their willing little mouthpieces in the main stream media. As he himself put it, ‘I hae to work, it’s noa jist the money, but it’s getting harder and harder.’ In the last few months his UC claim has been repeatedly shut down.

In the past, someone who got short-term work could make a rapid reclaim when it ended to get back onto JSA, and any way there was no long initial wait to get payments. Now, with the supposedly simplified system of UC, which was meant to make it easier to go in and out of work, your claim can get shut down if even a short term job takes you over the monthly threshold, and how long it takes to start up again is a lottery, depending on when in your assessment cycle your job ends. As we explained in a previous blog, you may be plunged into deep economic insecurity for as long as nine weeks before getting back on UC payments.

In the last year alone, Jim has had five separate jobs, and has had his UC claim shut down on two occasions. As a manual worker who is employed on zero hour and short term contracts, he is keenly aware of the difference between Tory rhetoric regarding life on UC and the sometimes brutal reality of working at the front line of ‘the gig economy’ that neo-liberal ‘voodoo economics’ have brought into being.

And, having worked for a wide range of employers, Jim is also well aware of the ‘tricks’ employers use to deceive and pressurise workers: of employers who take you on but then ‘punt you when their order is completed’; of managers at the Amazon warehouse in Dunfermline who take on new workers and then ‘beast them until they go faster, or get rid of them altogether’; of workers who receive verbal warnings (‘three strikes and you’re out’) for spending five minutes in the toilet rather than the two minutes they are allowed. As we talked, he turned to the buroo, and, pointing to its entrance, exclaimed, ‘There should be sign up ower that door, saying “Welcome to Hell”’.

Weymouth and Portland – Action on Wages (WeyPAW)

WeyPAW is a community action group who want to give the people of Weymouth and Portland a pay rise. We take action on the streets, in the media and online to help people understand the various problems they have in getting paid properly, as well as the various legally required payments they are entitled to as employees of businesses in and around Weymouth and Portland. These include Statutory Sick Pay and Holiday Pay, but at the very simple, to ascertain whether they are receiving the UK legally mandated Minimum Wage.

Policy Proposals – Discussion

We need:

  • an integrated strategy to tackle poverty wages and failing services in W&P, using public resources in key areas;
  • a commitment by local councils to pay the real Living Wage, as set by the Living Wage Foundation;
  • a commitment by local councils to equal pay for women, full in-work benefits, and rights at work – and an undertaking to allocate contracts on this basis;
  • a commitment by local councils to end to zero-hours contracts;
  • a commitment by local councils to publish and pursue active strategies to tackle food, fuel and funeral poverty;
  • a commitment by local councils to ban payday loan companies from council advertising spaces;
  • an audit of jobs in W&P, with the participation of local councils, to identify delinquent (“rogue”) employers who evade full payment of wages and in-work benefits, and/or who impose unnecessary charges on employees;
  • trade union organisation to protect rights at work, especially in low-paid sectors including catering, retail and leisure (holiday camps, hotels, tourism);
  • a new agenda for housing that focuses on unoccupied units, a programme of refurbishment and co-operative ownership and/or rental;
  • an urgent review of health provision with direct involvement of the public;
  • an active, high-profile public campaign for improved public transport by road and rail;
  • a collaborative strategy for public “anchor” institutions that provide full-time jobs, rights at work and a continuing contribution to local communities;
  • a working group to advance plans for a University of Dorset based on campuses at Weymouth and Dorchester.
  • Revised policy proposals will be put to MPs, councillors, and all candidates for office in the Unitary Authority and in the next general election. WeyPAW will ask all candidates for their views and intentions.

See WeyPAW policies at www.weypaw.org and on Facebook. Contact WeyPAW at weypaw@gmail.com

Medical support for migrant workers

Some migrant workers can’t access NHS services. Doctors of the World has a national helpline and a clinic in London, and some limited popup clinics elsewhere.

 

“If you’re having problems getting healthcare our team can give you free and confidential support – whatever your immigration status and wherever you live in the UK.”

Find a clinic

F.W. Peter Ridpath, 1948 – 2018.

Peter Ridpath (centre) at home on the picket line.

When I heard last week that London Wobbly Peter Ridpath had passed away I wanted to write something for the blog but didn’t have enough biographical info to do him justice.

Here’s a proper obituary from his London Branch

and one from the Anarchist Communist Group

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of Peter’s company on numerous actions, demo’s, union events and bookfairs, and I liked him a lot.

I found him to be jolly, kind-hearted, interesting to talk to and militant as fuck. A dyed-in-the-wool revolutionary syndicalist and anarchist, he was a familiar face on picket lines across the capital, and argued quietly but persuasively against bureaucratic and centralising tendencies.

So long Peter, we’re going to miss you.

– Felix Sabot, Dorset IWW.