Employment protection laws under attack

Posted: May 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

by Caroline Colebrook

THE ECONOMY is back in recession, share prices are tumbling and the Con-Dem Coalition plans to take full advantage to use the dire economic situation to strip what little employment protection workers in Britain still have — according to measures announced in the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday.

The speech began with a pledge: “My ministers’ first priority will be to reduce the deficit and restore economic stability.

“Legislation will be introduced to reduce burdens on business by repealing unnecessary legislation and to limit state inspection of businesses.

“My government will introduce legislation to reform competition law to promote enterprise and fair markets.”

Those few words presage an attack on the industrial tribunal system making it easier for bosses to hire and fire at will and to discriminate on the basis of race or gender because it will be harder for victimised workers to seek redress through tribunals.

And fewer heath and safety inspections will lead to an increase in workplace accidents, injuries, work-induced sickness and fatalities.

The Government forgets that the tribunal system has resolved thousands of grievances that could otherwise have provoked strike action.

If in future injustices at work cannot be resolved through the tribunal system workers will be forced again to resort to strike action.

The speech also warned of new attacks on the state pension and an attempt to force us all to rely on private savings schemes — always a gamble under capitalism.

Modernising the pension system will also include raising the state pension age in line with life expectancy and the state of the nation’s finances.

According to John Lawson, head of pension policy at Standard Life this mean people now aged 37 will not get their state pension until they are 70; those who are now 21 won’t get it until they are 75 and children born this year won’t get it until they are 80.

There will be a Bill to reform the House of Lords — in spite of objections from some Tory backbenchers that this will eat up time needed to get other legislation through.

There will be legislation to allow police and security services to monitor our electronic communications — ostensibly not the content of the messages, just who they are from and to and at what time. But monitoring this much will be hard without also capturing the content of messages.

The Government plans to commit 0.7 per cent of the gross domestic product to overseas aid but will not commit to legislate to do this regularly. In any case that aid always comes with so many strings that British based capitalism gains more profit in the long run than the amount given.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber responded swiftly, criticising the Coalition for its mistaken economic policies, failure to create jobs and austerity measures “that have sent the economy into reverse”.

Barber added: “What is worst is that ministers are wrapping up a real attack on rights at work as good for growth and employment. Those who opposed the minimum wage and rights for paid holidays are using the recession as a cover to introduce policies that they know have little support and that will be seen as nasty by most.

“There is no actual evidence that making work insecure does anything for the economy — easy fire will not lead to new hires.”

http://www.newworker.org/archive2012/nw20120511/employment_protection_laws_under_attack.html

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