From the TUC

Why Cameron’s belief in freedom doesn’t extend to workers

11 Feb 2015, By

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.


One Response to Why Cameron’s belief in freedom doesn’t extend to workers

  1. Allan Kyte
    Feb 23rd 2015, 2:35 pm

    The subject of “Zero Hours Contracts” has and is very much in the news and I fully sympathise with anyone who is tied into such Dickensian forms of employment contracts.
    I appreciate that the flexibility of such arrangements will suite
    some people however ,in the main they are an abomination that
    offers no employment /financial security to employees ,which can affect peoples lives in many adverse ways.
    There is however,a group of people who’s lives are being made a misery ,who rarely receive any consideration,not because of the low pay,but because they are elderly,sick and vulnerable and require Social and /or Domiciliary Care,who
    owing to it’s privatization and the widespread use of “Z.H.C’s
    are now faced with a never ending stream of different carers
    day after day which destroys any continuity and is not conducive with high quality care and/or building confidence and makes it impossible to be able to build a close working relationship between the parties,which is essential where personal care is involved,which is traumatic enough at any time,without having to submit to total strangers day after day.
    So,I challenge all the political parties who want our vote,to
    commit themselves in advance of the elections to “DISCONTINUE THE USE OF “Z.H.C’s”,within domiciliary care and commit to do so,in their manifestos .