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Interview with Guy Standing: “Most unions have failed to respond to the needs and aspirations of the precariat”

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Guy Standing, renowned economist, noted author and honorary president of BIEN, was recently interviewed by the Equal Times, a global media platform that focuses on work and social justice.

Guy Standing makes a forceful case for basic income that takes into account the current global conditions of the labor market and the economy. He draws on his vast wealth of knowledge and presents complex concepts in a clear and synthetic manner.

Standing argues that:

– Basic income is key to get people out of the poverty trap, as people experience few gains merely by moving from unemployment benefits to low-paying jobs.

– Trade unions’ opposition to basic income is misguided, as unions and workers would actually benefit from a basic income.

– The struggles for a minimum wage are a positive development, but a minimum wage does not guarantee the welfare of the growing number of people who are not formally employed.

– Evidence from projects in Africa and India indicates that people are more cooperative and more productive when given a basic income, contrary to fears that a basic income would reduce productivity.

– An unconditional basic income would be an effective tool to fight poverty in developing countries, whereas conditional forms of social assistance drive down wages and increase dependency and exploitation.

– Basic income is affordable. One way to finance it is to overhaul the existing benefit system, while also cutting subsidies and tax breaks to big corporations and rich people.

– Basic income is not a panacea, but an essential measure to improve the worsening conditions of the “precariat”, the growing class of people who have little or no prospects of finding a full-time permanent job in their lifetime.

Chris Burns interviews Guy Standing, “Most unions have failed to respond to the needs and aspirations of the precariat,” Equal Times, November 26, 2015.

Vito Laterza

About Vito Laterza

Vito Laterza has written 16 articles.

Vito Laterza is a research fellow at the University of Cape Town and the editor of the Human Economy Blog. He is an anthropologist, labour expert and political analyst focusing on politics, economy and society in Africa and the West. He writes regularly for international media such as Foreign Affairs and Al Jazeera English.

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