Wednesday, June 29, 2011

UNISON NDC 2011: The Spirit Level Fringe

On Wednesday lunchtime there was a fringe sponsored by the UNISON "hidden workforce" project.  I have posted about "The Spirit Level: Why Equality is better for Everyonehere and here.  What was different about this meeting was that the first speaker was someone who had suffered first hand from income inequality.  Then we heard about the research from Professor Richard Wilkinson.

The meeting was chaired by UNISON AGS Roger McKenzie. Luis Ojeda spoke first, he is from Ecuador who has lived in the UK for 14 years and is employed as a cleaner at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). He described how dreadful it was for him and his work colleagues surviving on minimum wages as contract cleaners with a exploitative employer.  UNISON, the other campus unions and SOAS students campaigned together and the School eventually introduced a Living wage policy for all.

Richard spoke as eloquently and persuasively as ever about how hard research showed that income inequality is simply bad for everyone.  Rich and poor. Even if the biggest cheer he got was when he said that having no friends in society is worse for your health than if you smoked (from smokers)!

He also thought that it was no co-incidence that countries such as Norway and Sweden do better in almost all national well being statistical outcomes, have high levels of trade union density and influence.

So join UNISON and live longer and better!

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