The politics of job retention schemes in Britain: The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Temporary Short Time Working Compensation Scheme

Jay Wiggan*, Chris Grover

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The UK Government’s introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in March 2020 was pitched as unprecedented. Yet, during the 1970s and 1980s, UK governments also operated wage subsidy job retention schemes. Indeed, despite their professed liberal market orientation, Thatcher’s radical right Conservative governments presided over the expansive Temporary Short Time Working Compensation Scheme (TSTWCS) between 1979 and 1984. Drawing upon the work of Gallas (2016), we contend this embrace of wage subsidy schemes by Conservative governments almost 40 years apart emanate from a class politics focused on securing the subordination of labour. In our analysis, the TSTWCS is understood as a mechanism to dampen disquiet with the early Thatcher Government’s project to restore employer dominance. And the CJRS is a mechanism to preserve the labour market relations of domination and exploitation successfully embedded by the Conservatives in the 1980s.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalCritical Social Policy
Early online date7 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • short time working
  • unemployment
  • social security
  • conservative government

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