Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Tories attack workers rights (no change there then)

The Tories have opened up a bit of “clear blue water” with a daft attack upon the miserably few rights individual workers have.

The odious Alan Duncan has pleased the management stooges at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) with an attack on the employment tribunal system.

Duncan thinks it is too easy for workers to get into the employment tribunals. He also seems to think that the tribunals never award costs against an unsuccesful claimant, proving I suppose that Cameron hasn’t stopped the Tories being “the stupid party.” Since 2001 tribunals have had powers to award costs if a party - or his/her representative - has acted "vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or otherwise unreasonably, or the bringing or conducting of the proceedings by a party has been misconceived”.

The CIPD jokers reckon that employers should behave well because it is good for business and not because they are required to do so by regulations. This only goes to show that pretend academic disciplines such as “Human Resource Management” aren’t good for developing intellectual rigour. There are different approaches to management out there in the world and plenty of employers are maximising profits by attacking the interests of their workforce without reference to CIPD notions of “good practice.”

There are good employers and good managers out there who want to do right by their workforce in spite of operating within a system that works in the opposite direction– but there are plenty of the other sort of employers, managers (and HR professionals!) out there. I encounter them regularly – and if you are a Union activist or officer doing your job then you do too.

The problem with employment tribunals is not that it is too easy to get access to them but that it is too difficult for workers to get access to the advice and representation that they need to enforce their rights against hostile employers.

Workplace organisation, backed up where necessary by industrial action, is a better guarantee of our rights than litigation, but workers need the capacity to enforce our legal rights. In UNISON we need to reconsider the overly cautious approach to bringing tribunal applications about which I have blogged before.

Under any Government we need unions which will use every tool to defend our members.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Agree with your comments on HRM as an academic discipline. It is a great shame then that the excellent Industrial Relations courses at Keele University are closing. These allowed union activists like myself to study at post graduate level without having to be exposed to the usual management mumbo jumbo drivel.

Andrew Maybury