13 September 2013
Yesterday (12 September 2013), a debate on employment rights was held in parliament, with support shown for a combined effort from trade unions and employers to improve labour conditions.
Watch the parliamentary debate here
The debate, called by Labour MP Michael Meacher, was broad and touched on many of the attacks on employment rights seen throughout the Coalition years. These attacks include:
- Disallowing employees from claiming unfair dismissal unless they have been working for the same employer for at least two years – giving businesses 24 months to sack workers without good reason.
- Making it prohibitively expensive to take an employer to tribunal should the law be broken.
- Reducing the compensation employees receive if a tribunal finds an employer has broken the law/
- Halving the amount of time trade unions have to negotiate a fair deal for workers if employers announce mass redundancies.
- Introducing the shares-for-rights scheme, through which employees swap fundamental employment rights including the right to redundancy pay, to claim unfair dismissal, to request training or flexible working, and to the statutory rights on paternal and adoption leave in return for £2,000 in shares (which may depreciate).
- Removing employers’ 114-year-old liability for their workers’ health and safety, which means employees must now be able to provide proof of negligence even where there is an obvious breach in the law.
- Abolishing the agricultural wages board, leaving workers’ wages vulnerable to downward pressure from rich supermarkets seeking cheap produce.
Mr Meacher called for “a positive platform … [to be] established for employment rights through a partnership between management and the unions in the running of companies. That concept, which this House should encourage, has long been the mark of some of the most successful companies abroad, including in Germany”.
This is the argument of the Institute of Employment Rights in its latest publication Reconstruction after the Crisis: a manifesto for collective bargaining. The publication, authored by renowned employment law experts Professor Keith Ewing and John Hendy QC, provides historical, legal and political information and arguments for collective bargaining before proposing a framework to encourage trade unions and employers to work more effectively together in the UK to create jobs and build a stronger economy. The proposals are detailed, suggesting methods of implementation and addressing the counterarguments that may be posed.
Find out more about the manifesto for collective bargaining, and purchase your own copy, here