Friday, 4 February 2011

The Slippery Slope Starts Here

With the formal start of the Government's consultation exercise on 'reforming' the process for resolving workplace disputes the sledgehammer is just about to swing on the weak framework of employment rights that UK workers have in comparison to our brothers and sisters on the Continent.

If you look at the consultation paperwork ( it is no suprise that the Tories have cast this assult on rights within the context of their own austerity measures and, as a result, they wish to
'remove barriers to growth and job creation'.

It beggar's belief that the Tories retain their ideological assumption that a weakening of employment protection = an increase in employment within the economy. This was the same assumption that decried the introduction of the minimum wage (a downward pressure on wages and mass unemployment the lunatics cried) and instead we saw an increase in employemnt and a flattening of wage variance at the lower end of the labour force.

One of the more worrying features of their proposals is the extension back to two years of the qualifying period for the right to take to Employment Tribunal a claim of unfair dismissal. The consultation documents delights in the fact that such a change would result in
'3,700-4,700 fewer claims being made to tribunal' and what of the legitimate claims of unfair dismissal within this number who will fall foul of the change?

The Tories (as it is they who control the government and the attack dogs here) are clear that they will continue, perhaps at even greater a pace than Gordon Brown, the neo-liberal assault on social and welfare protection within the British economy.

As the labour movement prepares for industrial action this year we can expect a new wave of 'reform' that will bite deeply into our capacity and capability to organise and respond to the large scale assult on the public sector and standards in British society generally. We have to resist this in any way we can.

Please take the time to read the consultation document and make sure that your trade union is providing a response. Your general thoughts on this piece are also welcome.



John Clements said...

I knew the changes were coming, but perhaps I thought (no reason wy) they would come later in the year. As you say this is the precursor to worst and I suppose they are coming now to ensure that whatever they throw at us it can all be crammed into legislation that will halt the planned strike action. I am hoping though that the rising tide of resentment on forests, libraries, bus services startes to unbalance them and that the public backlash includes that from what are percived to be reactionary assualts on TU rights.

Lets see.


Ian Manborde said...

Many thanks John,

I think it will be key for all trade unionists to keep an eye on the (trusted) press and other sources e.g. LRD for news on how the assault on employment and H&S law will play out.

You'll know from UNITE material that the Lord (they've never had it so good) Young review of H&S law has been completed, we are just waiting for news about how his proposals will fit into the Parliamentary timetable.

Keep watching this space also.



Peter Chigana said...

God's Blessing Ian,

How fortunate the times are to create a focus on the state of organised labour, I read your peice on Egypt with great interest.

And now the detested coalition in the United Kingdom begins its attack on your labor laws.

As you are ascribed to say on your blog, we live in interesting times and I welcome your continued coverage of the neoliberal bedevilemt of your state of affairs.


Peter Chigana

Ian Manborde said...

Thanks Pete,

It is great to hear from you and although (as you well know) I don't believe in God, it's nice to have your blessings.

Any comment from you on the current situation is helpful - what is the latest situation regarding labour rights where you are?

Best wishes