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Employee rights stop employment wrongs
The TUC has launched a new campaign highlighting the Coalition Government’s attack on employment rights. TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber explains why the campaign needs your support
Everybody at work needs basic protection from unfair treatment. Even in the best run organisations, things can go wrong.
But your employment rights are under a sly attack. It is not being done with any great fanfare, but the Government is slicing away at your work rights. Already, people have to wait an extra year before they get protection from unfair dismissal. There are proposals to reduce maternity leave and make people pay a fee before taking a claim to an employment tribunal.
The argument that scrapping fair rules at work will boost the economy does not stand up. UK workers enjoy fewer rights than any of the world’s developed economies bar the USA. Many have stronger economies. Unemployment is high and the economy is failing to grow not because employers can’t sack women for being pregnant, but because the banks crashed, living standards are stagnant and the Government is pressing ahead with deep, fast spending cuts.
None of this is being done with a big bang. Of course it’s popular with some business organisations (though by no means all), but the government hopes that those who lose out – and that’s everyone at work – won’t notice.
That is why the TUC has launched our ‘Employee rights stop employment wrongs’ campaign. Many of the worst proposals are not yet firm government policy, and we have every chance of stopping them.
This is because there are big arguments between ministers. Some on the right are cheering on a secret report from multi-millionaire and big Conservative party donor Adrian Beecroft who wants a bonfire of workplace protection. He has even called for all maternity rights to be scrapped. Others, including Liberal Democrat ministers, are less keen – though they still back some attacks and have come up with some of their own.
This therefore needs to be a smart campaign. We need to spread the word so ministers can see that they can’t get away with doing this in secret. We will be running adverts and publishing leaflets explaining more. And we need to be ready to defend each right that they target in the months ahead.
"Over the years, unions have won rights for a minimum wage, paid holidays, freedom from unfair discrimination and protection from unfair dismissal. And for all the attacks on health and safety, without proper safeguards many more would have accidents or die every year at work."
"Some want to scrap rights for staff in small firms, turning them into second-class citizens at work. Others want to introduce ‘protected conversations’ where your boss would be free to say almost anything they liked to you without any comeback."
"We agree with Norman Lamb MP. He is now the minister that deals with these issues, but before he joined the government this Liberal Democrat MP said that it would be ‘madness’ to scrap protection against unfair sackings: “It is likely to have the unintended consequence of destabilising consumer confidence at a very difficult time. If every employee in the land faced the prospect that they could be removed arbitrarily, the destabilising effect could be devastating. It would legitimise Victorian employment practices.”"
The best way to support the campaign is to visit www.stopemploymentwrongs.org.uk to sign our petition and get updates on future campaign actions.