Britain’s rigid, elaborate system of class distinctions may have a long pedigree, but that doesn’t make it respectable. The head of one of the UK’s largest unions, Frances O’Grady of the TUC, has made an impassioned plea to end employer prejudice against job applicants based solely on their social origins, The Guardian reports, calling for legislation by Parliament to end discrimination against candidates from working-class backgrounds. Speaking to the TUC’s annual conference, O’Grady blasted the country’s unhappy history of class discrimination, often based on superficial distinctions such as speech patterns and pronunciation.
- The Guardian quoted O’Grady making an all-too-familiar argument: “The system is rigged from the start. Where you come from. What your parents do. Your accent. Which school you went to. If you’re from a working-class family, the odds are stacked against you.”
- O’Grady also took aim at the complacency and contempt still shown by some members of the British elite for, well, pretty much everyone else, pointing to House of Commons majority leader Jacob Rees-Mogg’s now-infamous supine pose during a critical Parliament debate on Brexit: “Let’s be honest, Britain is still blighted by old-fashioned snobbery, too. Inflated egos and a sense of entitlement. Picture Jacob Rees-Mogg. Treating the government frontbench like his own living room sofa.”
- O’Grady proposed that firms be forced to report pay gaps between workers from different social backgrounds, noting that new hires from wealthy families are twice as likely to start with higher pay than those from working-class background.