Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain – review

Journalist James Bloodworth’s story of being ‘embedded’ for six months as a zero-hours worker is vital reading for all

We perpetrate a swindle every time we use that hip phrase “the gig economy” to describe the modern labour market. If we wanted to be accurate, we could call it the “piece-rate” or the “precarious” economy. If we wanted to be polemical, we would call it the “rapacious” or the “boss-takes-all” economy. Silicon Valley’s success in prompting us to talk of “the gig economy” instead suggests that exploited men and women are the equivalent of rock stars, nipping into a club for a surprise session one night and heading off to Glastonbury the next. Far from being beaten down by lives of grinding insecurity, workers are freewheeling bohemians liberated from the routines that tied down their boring parents.

By allowing the myth that drudgery is freedom to pass unchallenged, we have ...