Why Cameron’s belief in freedom doesn’t extend to workers
If David Cameron really wants workers to get a pay rise, then he’s got a funny way of going about it. Over the last five years we have seen a sustained attack on workers’ rights and protection at work, including trade unions.
Unions are the last line of defence for workers, so little wonder that that the Conservative Party’s belief in freedom doesn’t extend to us.
Far from stamping out workplace abuses like zero-hours contracts and pregnancy discrimination, the government has made it easier for bosses to sack workers and act with impunity.
Employees now have to wait two years before getting protection from unfair dismissal. New charges as high as £1,200 make it impossible for many to take a case to an employment tribunal, even if they would get their boss bang to rights at a hearing.
And now the Conservative Party has promised even more punitive rules for strike ballots, in a naked bid to wipe out democratic dissent and weaken workers’ bargaining power.
This government is fond of telling us that any job is better than no job, no matter how insecure and low paid, and has handed employers the kind of absolute power that Victorian mill owners once wielded.
Workers deserve better.
For a start we need to scrap tribunal fees that price workers out of justice. And we need to get rid of the qualifying period for unfair dismissal –this should be a day one right.
Secondly, we need tougher enforcement of workers’ rights. Since 2010 the budgets of enforcement agencies, including the Health and Safety Executive and Gangmasters Licensing Authority, have been slashed.
And we must reverse the trend of casualisation that loads the dice in favour of bad bosses. This means paying agency workers the same rate as permanent staff, clamping down on exploitative zero-hours contracts and calling time on bogus self-employment.
Spare a thought for those self-employed City Link workers who found out on Christmas Eve that they were losing their jobs. Many had worked at the company for years but will hardly get a penny in compensation. Meanwhile, the private equity chiefs behind the collapsed parcel carrier City Link expect to walk away with £20m.
This is why we need stronger unions and collective bargaining in workplaces across the UK. Only a strong union voice, up to and including the boardroom, will build a more equal and sustainable post-crash economy that benefits the 99% who, after all, create the wealth in the first place.
— TUC Media Team (@TUCnews) February 10, 2015