Henry Ford, 37, US car manufacturer, pose for a ph...DETROIT, UNITED STATES: Henry Ford, 37, US car manufacturer, pose for a photographer in his new T Ford model in front of his car plant in Detroit, in 1900. (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Henry Ford's employees could afford the company's products © AFP

The front-page headline “Labour would cost UK companies £300bn by shifting shares to staff” (September 2) was one of the most partisan I have ever seen in the Financial Times, and more like something I would expect from the tabloid press that I don’t choose to buy. Only later does it become clear that the suggestion is for a gradual transfer of a mere 10 per cent. The fact that the top 20 per cent of income earners received six times the disposable household income of the bottom 20 per cent (according to the government’s own figures) doesn’t get a look-in.

Henry Ford understood that it made sound economic sense to pay workers enough to allow them to buy the company’s products. Impoverishing your workers — even if, like Deliveroo, Uber and the rest of the gig economy crew, you claim they’re not actually employees — is not good for society, as numerous FT articles have noted in recent years.

As for the rights of tenants, I am agnostic on whether or not they should be given the right to buy, but they certainly need a fair rent structure and decent protection. Not long ago there were headlines saying that a new generation of middle-aged renters was likely to face extreme poverty in old age, with resulting stresses on the health service and elsewhere.

Compare this country’s attitudes to housing and landlords with Germany’s, where Berlin has just acquired nearly 700 flats from a private landlord, with plans for more. In a special report in March the FT noted approvingly that the start-up culture in Berlin was thriving. A city that protects its residents frees up initiative.

The FT has spent the last three years insisting that the EU gives a better deal than the economic isolation that faces the country in November. Most of our worker protection has come from the EU. Now that Jeremy Corbyn has finally been dragged into co-operation with other anti-Brexiters, and Boris Johnson’s Conservative party is looking increasingly unstable, is this really a good time to put the boot in to any policy that might suggest that capitalism was capable of improvement, just because it comes from the Labour party?

Judith Martin
Winchester, Hants, UK

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