Trade unions, the professions and rising inequality | Letters

Lawyers show against planned cuts to the authorized help budget in London on 7 March 2014. ‘[Simon Jenkins] peddles the nonsense that the price of legal support charges 20 moments Europe’s average, ignoring the several similar studies that have found charges to be regular,’ writes Matt Foot. Photograph: Andrew Cowie/AFP/Getty

What a completely reactionary write-up by Simon Jenkins (From militant medical professionals to offended lawyers, professionals are the new union barons,19 November), supporting federal government attacks on junior physicians and legal assist legal professionals. He peddles the nonsense that the price of legal assist is twenty instances Europe’s regular, disregarding the several comparable reviews that have discovered fees to be typical. His quaint middle-class thought that illustration can basically be fixed by us seeking mediation ignores the part of some authorized assist attorneys in supporting campaigns that uncovered horrible police methods in cases these kinds of as Hillsborough or Stephen Lawrence.

His idea that absolutely everyone must be denied the two a solicitor and a barrister would guide immediately to masses of miscarriages of justices, the place the law enforcement and prosecution would have illustration denied to everybody else. It would also guide to a absence of accountability. The final time I was at court docket was at an inquest for a loved ones of a gentleman who had died in a G4S jail. The prison had skilfully managed to tell the improper loved ones their son experienced died. This did not stop them having four associates at the inquest – but it also did not cease the jury criticising their methods. First rate representation may not be important for the likes of Simon Jenkins, but the vast majority of society can’t manage to be without having it.
Matt Foot
Co-founder, Justice Alliance

Simon Jenkins hits the nail on the head yet again. As a senior civil servant at the stop of the 70s, I become the direct negotiator with the BMA on the pay and circumstances of medical center doctors. My mom-in-law’s response was to wag her finger and tell me I need to “look following them simply because they look after me”. It before long turned very clear that the BMA have been, and continue being, a formidable negotiating pressure, and considerably of this pressure will come from the support they have from the community. This, in flip, indicates that politicians have by no means been prepared to experience down the health care job and its restrictive practices at minimum because Nye Bevan discovered he had to “stuff their mouths with gold” to get them to cooperate with the new NHS in 1948.

One of the concerns we tackled or, far more correctly, failed to tackle, in the late 70s was modifications in junior doctors’ contracts. The consultants argued that affected person safety created it needed to have a prolonged tail of junior medical doctors at perform or on phone 24 several hours a day. I compared this with the cover available in personal hospitals, where several consultants much more than doubled their salaries. There, no junior health-related include existed, consultants popped in to perform functions or prescribe treatment method and popped out once again, there was no accessibility to individual documents and no intense care services if things went wrong. This is even now, essentially, the placement these days. Regardless of these evident variations we didn’t deal with to get medical protect in NHS hospitals on to a far more value-effective footing, mostly since ministers caved in. The existing dispute with junior medical doctors is instead diverse, but the power of the BMA stays.
Alan Healey
Bishops Castle, Shropshire

On webpage 37, Simon Jenkins informs us that the curbing of trade union electrical power has made the British financial system “more versatile and much more efficient”. On page 28, an Institute for Fiscal Studies report details up some of the gross inequalities in British society, with the best one% of homes having internet wealth of much more than £2.4m and the poorest 1% with adverse net wealth of far more than £16,000.

Possibly Jenkins’ following report could examine the hyperlinks among declining trade union energy and developing social inequality, since impeccably mainstream organisations this kind of as the Planet Bank look certain that this sort of backlinks exist. He might also care to offer us his definitions of flexibility and performance, as well.
Tony Dennis
Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire

As 1 person’s restrictive follow is another’s livelihood, the dismantling of trade union restrictive methods over the last 35 a long time can scarcely be witnessed as an unalloyed “good thing”, speed Simon Jenkins. Indeed, a key influence of the reduction of trade union energy has been the very sharp reduction in the share of nationwide revenue likely to wages and the consequential progress of inequality in this country, with its zero-several hours contracts, condition subsidies to employers and landlords, and exploitation of inexpensive migrant labour.

As for the professions, the difficulty is not so significantly with restrictive practices as with restricted accessibility, as authorities increasingly seeks to change electrical power away from the professions and to monetise all associations. It is this concern of electricity in the market that Simon, remarkably, fails to recognise. Unfettered marketplaces are the difficulty, not the solution. The professions represent impartial sources of power in our modern society, which is one explanation that they are underneath these kinds of swingeing attack from the neoliberals with their dogmatic assertion of the electricity of the “market” over all else. Cui Bono, Simon?
Roy Boffy

Simon Jenkins condescendingly asserts that British universities are “wasting half the pupil yr even though teachers ‘do research’ or get holidays”. Does he feel that the publishable research needed from teachers transpires in a time-totally free dimension? His jibe demonstrates no appreciation of the huge quantity of work guiding the research that fortify so a lot of of his posts or culminate in the systems and health care treatments from which so many of us gain.
Clive Coen
Professor of neuroscience, King’s Higher education London

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