Free marketeers like to sing the praises of “risk taking entrepreneurs”. Willingness to take risks is held up as a virtue. But in reality the real risks in society are taken not by entrepreneurs but by workers, and not by choice but by necessity.
BECTU’s motion on Vulnerable Workers at this year’s TUC was about the current trend for employers to offload risk onto workers, by redefining the employment relationship itself. We see it in the 1.4 million agency workers in this country; the 1.25 million freelance workers; and unknown numbers of casual employees, unpaid interns and bogus “volunteers”. And at extreme, we have gang-masters operating outside the law.