Last weekend I spent Saturday afternoon leafleting a nearby estate for TUSC. I did it in the company of a bloke I'd not met before. He was a council worker who had got involved in the election campaign largely because his job was threatened by the latest (and deepest) cuts package from Haringey Council. In the course of a few hours trudging around the estate we swapped life stories. I thought it was worth sharing his:
Pete had served an engineering apprenticeship and worked in various manufacturing jobs until he was made redundant by new technology. Then he went to work for the Post Office. He knew that he would never earn the same amount as he had as a skilled tradesman, but he was willing to trade this for security. But after ten years he was again made redundant. After sometime of unemployment, he went to work for the council as a street cleaner. Until that service was contracted out to a private firm - which is now laying people off in response to the council's budget cuts. He is now over 60 and is looking at the options of voluntary redundancy as he is not sure in any case how many years he has left when he continue to be doing manual work outdoors every day of the year. He is pretty sure that when he does go, probably in the next few months, he will not work again.
An unremarkable story perhaps, but it encapsulates everything that has got wrong with our society over the past 20 years - and has been experienced by millions.