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Festival of Ideas

What is the Future for Work in Low-Wage Britain? James Bloodworth

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We all define ourselves by our profession. But what if our job was demeaning, poorly paid and tedious?

We live in a time when employment is high, but one of the key changes in the past decade is that many jobs are now precarious and in the gig economy – up to 10 million Britons (nearly a third of the UK workforce) do not have secure employment, according to the GMB union

Zero-hours contracts and the gig economy have redefined the relationship between companies and their workers: for many, careers are low-paid and high-risk, a series of short-term jobs with no security and little future. James Bloodworth spent six months living and working across Britain, taking on the country’s most gruelling jobs. He talks about the anxieties and hopes of the workers he encountered, and how traditional working-class communities have been decimated by the move to soulless service jobs. From the Orwellian reach of an Amazon warehouse to the time trials of a council care worker, he offers an analysis of a divided nation which needs to understand the true reality of how other people live and work before it can heal.

This event was part of the annual Coleridge Series, inspired by Coleridge’s wide-ranging and radical lectures in Bristol in the 1790s. 

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