Coming soon: The New Statesman Century

Weidenfeld & Nicolson's 100th anniversary book will feature contributions from George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes and Hugh Grant.

 

From Weidenfeld & Nicolson: 

Weidenfeld & Nicolson to publish

THE NEW STATESMAN CENTURY

Alan Samson, Publisher Non-Fiction, has bought World Rights from Sophie Lambert of Tibor Jones & Associates for THE NEW STATESMAN CENTURY  edited by the magazine ‘s own editor, Jason Cowley. The book will be published by W&N in August 2013 to mark the magazine’s centenary year.

THE NEW STATESMAN CENTURY will celebrate 100 years of stellar and influential journalism with a fascinating selection of the most interesting, groundbreaking and amusing writing to have appeared in the magazine.  Contributors include George Orwell, WB Yeats, HG Wells, Virginia Woolf, Graham Greene, Christopher Hitchens, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Richard Dawkins and Hugh Grant.

No British periodical or weekly magazine has a richer and more distinguished archive than the New Statesman, which has long been at the centre of British political and cultural life.  If not quite at the centre, then at the most energetic, subversive end of the progressive centre-left.  

Most of the great political and cultural writers of the last 100 years or so have written for the New Statesman.  Many have been on its staff or were associates of it: HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw, John Maynard Keynes, V.S. Pritchett, Paul Johnson, Christopher Hitchens and John Gray.  Many of the radical causes of our times were launched in association with or in the pages of the New Statesman -.  for example, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and Charter 88.  There is, too, a rich history of illustration and cartoons to draw on, from Low's sketches of the great and the good to the gonzo art of Ralph Steadman and Will Self's early comic strips.

The book is much more than an anthology.  It tells the story of the New Statesman century, from the eve of the First World War to the long aftermath of 9/11 and the Great Recession through which we are still passing.  It looks forward as well as back, offering a unique and unpredictable perspective on a tumultuous century.

Jason Cowley said: “We are delighted to be collaborating on this project with Weidenfeld & Nicolson, a publishing house as distinguished and venerable as the New Statesman itself. The book should delight anyone with an interest in good writing, and the history, politics and literature of a tumultuous century.”

Jason Cowley is a journalist, magazine editor and writer.  He became editor of the New Statesman in October 2008. Before that he was the editor of Granta magazine and a senior editor and writer on the Observer. In 2009 and 2011 he was named editor of the year in the Newspaper and Current Affairs Magazines category at the British Society of Magazine Editors awards. He is the author most recently of a memoir, The Last Game (2009).

Published by W&N in August 2013 at £20 in hardback and £10.99 in eBook. For further information please contact Helen Richardson on 0207 520 4449 or email helen.richardson@orionbooks.co.uk

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There's nothing Luddite about banning zero-hours contracts

The TUC general secretary responds to the Taylor Review. 

Unions have been criticised over the past week for our lukewarm response to the Taylor Review. According to the report’s author we were wrong to expect “quick fixes”, when “gradual change” is the order of the day. “Why aren’t you celebrating the new ‘flexibility’ the gig economy has unleashed?” others have complained.

Our response to these arguments is clear. Unions are not Luddites, and we recognise that the world of work is changing. But to understand these changes, we need to recognise that we’ve seen shifts in the balance of power in the workplace that go well beyond the replacement of a paper schedule with an app.

Years of attacks on trade unions have reduced workers’ bargaining power. This is key to understanding today’s world of work. Economic theory says that the near full employment rates should enable workers to ask for higher pay – but we’re still in the middle of the longest pay squeeze for 150 years.

And while fears of mass unemployment didn’t materialise after the economic crisis, we saw working people increasingly forced to accept jobs with less security, be it zero-hours contracts, agency work, or low-paid self-employment.

The key test for us is not whether new laws respond to new technology. It’s whether they harness it to make the world of work better, and give working people the confidence they need to negotiate better rights.

Don’t get me wrong. Matthew Taylor’s review is not without merit. We support his call for the abolishment of the Swedish Derogation – a loophole that has allowed employers to get away with paying agency workers less, even when they are doing the same job as their permanent colleagues.

Guaranteeing all workers the right to sick pay would make a real difference, as would asking employers to pay a higher rate for non-contracted hours. Payment for when shifts are cancelled at the last minute, as is now increasingly the case in the United States, was a key ask in our submission to the review.

But where the report falls short is not taking power seriously. 

The proposed new "dependent contractor status" carries real risks of downgrading people’s ability to receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Here new technology isn’t creating new risks – it’s exacerbating old ones that we have fought to eradicate.

It’s no surprise that we are nervous about the return of "piece rates" or payment for tasks completed, rather than hours worked. Our experience of these has been in sectors like contract cleaning and hotels, where they’re used to set unreasonable targets, and drive down pay. Forgive us for being sceptical about Uber’s record of following the letter of the law.

Taylor’s proposals on zero-hours contracts also miss the point. Those on zero hours contracts – working in low paid sectors like hospitality, caring, and retail - are dependent on their boss for the hours they need to pay their bills. A "right to request" guaranteed hours from an exploitative boss is no right at all for many workers. Those in insecure jobs are in constant fear of having their hours cut if they speak up at work. Will the "right to request" really change this?

Tilting the balance of power back towards workers is what the trade union movement exists for. But it’s also vital to delivering the better productivity and growth Britain so sorely needs.

There is plenty of evidence from across the UK and the wider world that workplaces with good terms and conditions, pay and worker voice are more productive. That’s why the OECD (hardly a left-wing mouth piece) has called for a new debate about how collective bargaining can deliver more equality, more inclusion and better jobs all round.

We know as a union movement that we have to up our game. And part of that thinking must include how trade unions can take advantage of new technologies to organise workers.

We are ready for this challenge. Our role isn’t to stop changes in technology. It’s to make sure technology is used to make working people’s lives better, and to make sure any gains are fairly shared.

Frances O'Grady is the General Secretary of the TUC.