05 July 2013
Prime Minister David Cameron has made it clear where his allegiances lie by inviting six business leaders to review European employment legislation. Workers, whose fundamental rights the regulations affect, were not given a voice.
The group will be chaired by Business Minister Michael Fallon – the Conservative MP rumoured to have been inserted into the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to counteract any “soft-hearted” beliefs in which Vince Cable might indulge. He will be joined by the Chief Executives of Marks & Spencer, BTG and Kingfisher: Mark Bolland, Louise Makin and Ian Cheshire respectively; as well as Managing Director of ATG Access Glenn Cooper, Chairman of Compass Group Paul Walsh, and Angel Investor 2011/BIS Non-Executive Director Dale Murray.
Health and safety regulations, employment law and company registration will be the target of their focus, and the group have been ordered to identify European legislation that could either be abolished or reformed.
“The men and women I’ve invited to help us to identify and remove barriers to growth represent small and large businesses, established firms and start-ups,” Fallon said. “We’ll listen to their recommendations and demand that the EU takes decisive steps to free up UK firms.”
The Minister explained that the government’s aim is to “promote a pro-business culture in Europe”, which some might argue already exists, especially in reference to cases like Viking and Laval. More importantly, this review shows the government’s attitude towards ordinary working people – those people who rely on rights first created in Europe, such as the right to work a 40-hour week instead of a 100-hour one; the right to take time off during pregnancy and after the birth of a child; the right to take holidays; and the equality laws that make it illegal for narrow-minded employers to discriminate against those for reasons of race, nationality, religion, disability, gender or sexuality.
When the Coalition need to consult on the laws that protect the basic rights of workers, they go to the ultra-rich and ask how it affects them. No doubt many of the rights UK employees have will be considered a burden to business and taken away; and the people will not be given a say.