Benefits for striking low-paid workers to be axed

Striking public sector workers Striking workers will not have their wages topped up from next year

Low-paid workers who take strike action will no longer have their wages topped up by the state, ministers say.

Workers on up to £13,000 a year can currently claim working tax credits to top up their income even when they take part in industrial action.

But from next year there will be no increase in benefits if a worker's income drops due to strike action.

The TUC said it was a "mean-spirited" move aimed at deterring workers from standing up for their rights.

The change is part of the new Universal Credit, which is replacing the benefit system with a single payment.

Mr Duncan Smith says the fact that the current benefit system compensates workers and tops up their income when they go on strike is "unfair and creates perverse incentives".

'Democratic right'

"Striking is a choice, and in future benefit claimants will have to pay the price for that choice, as under Universal Credit, we no longer will," said Mr Duncan Smith.

Start Quote

This is gesture politics aimed at putting fear into vulnerable”

End Quote Unite

But the TUC's head of economics, Nicola Smith, said most workers did not choose to go on strike "unless they feel they have no other choice".

And the money they lost in pay while taking part in industrial action was "far more significant than the small amounts of top-ups they get through the tax credits system".

She told the BBC News channel the right to strike was a democratic right that every worker in the UK had.

"And I think it's important that the government recognises that, and doesn't move ahead with this mean-spirited change that means for a few families things will be even tougher than they have to be at what will already be a very difficult time."

A spokesman for the Unite trade union said: "This is gesture politics aimed at putting fear into vulnerable, low-paid workers to stop them from standing up for their rights against poor working conditions."

Under the new rules, benefit claimants will be identified as being involved in a trade dispute using information provided by HM Revenue and Customs, the government said.

The amount a household receives in benefits will then be assessed using the normal, "non-strike" level of earnings.

'Starving people'

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne, for Labour, said every week the government found "someone else to blame" for the recession.

"Britain needs a plan for jobs and growth and a government which will take a sensible approach to industrial relations.

"Instead David Cameron's out-of-touch government, not content with creating panic at the pumps after mishandling the fuel dispute, are talking about starving people back to work.

"It seems that Iain Duncan Smith has put the idea that 'we are all in this together' well and truly in the bin."

Labour MP Anne Begg, chair of the work and pensions select committee, said questions remained on the Universal Credit.

"This is another example of it not being as generous as the government first made out that it was.

"The gains may actually be less than the gains that previously existed under the tax credit system. "



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  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    @117. John_Bull I take offence at that comment, I did not choose to be unemployed, and I did not choose to work very hard for over 25 years but not get a good living wage(I did work hard putting the hours in - before people misread that) I have the skills and experience, but not had the money to get those bits of paper to prove it. Without those I'm worthless - apparently

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    123. DenmarK

    Clearly you have forgotten the global crash and banking crisis. However, I expect you are one of those who blame our current recession on the Euro crisis and not the poor decisions of this government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    90% of did not know we subsidised strikers in this way.

    Are there any other little cashflows that the unions benefit from at our expense .

    And by the way the vast majority of us are not unionised . So do not assume the support of the masses .

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Why pressure the 'little man', the working man? Ah yes, because might is right, bullying is OK, and Tory is Tory is Tory. Since the government is happy to waste money elsewhere, i.e. by indirectly paying for oil companies' profits (via paying for wars to secure oil and gas out of public money even though it's private money that profits and pushes for war and Murdoch pressuring Blair confirms it).

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    Mike @ 122. Except the wealthy AREN'T creating jobs. Are you not aware the UK is back in recession?

  • Comment number 137.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    people who cannot claim working tax credits but are still on a very low wage, just have to put up with losing their pay. Why shouls anyone else have their wage replaced?

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    To Ingvar Gunnarson, you are simply not correct. Private sector employees have the same legal protections regarding industrial action and collective bargaining as anyone else. Some people are prepared to stand up for themselves and that right was hard one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    Further to my previous comment it is not the childrens fault there is no money coming in for food so what would be a fair way of sorting this conundrum out? The unions pay money to the stikers for going out? The govt making sure that there is enough for food? I don't know. I have not worked for some time and have no great love for this govt but something surley has to be done to ensure fairness?

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    From my understanding of the article they won't remove tax credits if people strike, they just won't add more for the time on strike. I think that is fair enough really, if it is a union supported strike then let the unions make up the difference. Not all of us believe in strikes & unions, and I don't think we should be asked to support people with the ability & opportunity to support themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    No surprises, The erosion of Workers rights will continue under the Tories.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Why on earth would the government want to pay people to go on strike? It makes no sense at all. Very sensible to correct this anomaly. Exercise your right to strike if you must, but please don't expect the taxpayer to help you out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    That's dodgy. That's political and it's nasty. I can see how the average Daily Mail reader might applaud it, but it is a tiny step on the way to good old twentieth century fascism. These people need watching.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    Yet another example of 1 rule for one and another rule for others. Sooner this gov is sacked the better, maybe they can then try working for a living, and paying their bills out of their own pocket.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Well the Nasty party is out in force today IDS with this after gove trying to influence an inquiry. Come on what are you trying to hide. Stand up like men ?.OH SORRY FORGOT YOU ARE TORIES.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    Typical of a Conservative government. Thatcher tried to deny the right to withdraw ones labour so sons of Thatcher will go down a similar path. We are all right Jack so let them eat cake.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    Tax credits inflate costs for everyone.

    Someone on Income based JSA can get full tax credits and still work

    Someone on contribution base JSA has ALL income assessed

    Go figure

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    The moral of this story is if you can not afford to strike then don't.
    am sure the Unions will give you money that is lost in Strikes.
    Where else can anybody survive with strikes? The unions need money and a planed strikes to help those that is on the lowest wage to receive some sort of support to act with the Unions. This Govt. is actuarially destroying the Unions for Private interests!

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    So, you have a right to strike unless you are poor. Those least able to exercise their 'choice, the same ones who probably have the most need to strike, are now to be even less able to do so.

    However, I do believe that the shortfall in income should be made up from union funds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    All the socialist whingers here are still in denial that it was their man Gordon Brown who went on the spend, spend, spend spree which wrecked our economy. If the resulting mess is now causing his previous client state pain, then the blame should be laid at his door, not at those who are trying to sort it out in the most adverse of circumstances.


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