TUC chief Frances O'Grady hits out at class system
Britain is heading into "a Downton Abbey-style society" where the class system is restored and the gap between rich and poor grows wider, the leader of the trades union movement has claimed.
Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, was addressing the body's annual conference in Liverpool. She said: "Are we going to settle for a nastier and poorer Britain – a Downton Abbey-style society, in which the living standards of the vast majority are sacrificed to protect the high living of the well-to-do?"
She continued: "Whether it's the judiciary, the media, business or public life, wearing the old school tie means you're up to 10 times more likely to reach the top. Under this Government, class prejudice is becoming respectable once again."
Although economic growth has returned and unemployment is falling, unions complain that the benefits of recovery are being felt unequally, with thousands forced into insecure, low-paid employment. Ms O'Grady also took a swipe at changes to the welfare system, including the five-week wait for those who qualify for universal credit.
"No matter how long you've worked, or how much you've contributed, if you lose your job you will have to wait five weeks before you get a penny. It's welfare for Wonga – a policy guaranteed to line the pockets of loan sharks," she said.