Monday, October 04, 2010

CBI - Conspiring to Bully Individuals at work?

Most employers think they should be allowed to boss us about. Most managers likewise believe that their larger pay packet gives them the right to call the shots in the workplace ("management's right to manage"). There may be an entire industry devoted to promoting "employee voice" and the "added value" from consultation but at the end of the day they believe in their power.

And power corrupts.

That's why we need trade unions - because our collective strength is the only antidote to the inequality inherent in the employment contract in a capitalist economy. Without collective organisation we are isolated and vulnerable as individuals. (All the more so as unemployment rises).

That's why the CBI want to make it even harder to take strike action (with legal protection) and easier for employers to undermine strikes (

I particularly love the juxtaposition of their proposals that we'd have to give fourteen days notice of a strike whilst getting only thirty days notice of mass redundancies (

Hands up anyone whose union could decide upon, initiate and conclude an official ballot for industrial action in the 16 day gap that would allow!

(Oh no, hang on, not "hands up" - I mean "cast your vote by post in a ballot to your home addresses...")

The only good thing about this is that it has drawn a defence of our rights from the TUC ( in which Brendan Barber (think mild-mannered Clark Kent without the alter-ego) says of the right to strke that it is "a fundamental right that helps deliver decent standards at work for millions each and every day."

That is spot on. As infrequently as may use the right to strike, it is the fact that we could do so that gives us the leverage to bargain with employers on issues where there is a conflict of interest between employer and employees.

No wonder the lobby group for indolent rentiers and their overpaid corporate hirelings want to tighten the legal shackles on our class. It'll make it easier for them to exploit their workers.

If they get their way we are going to have to rethink an approach of slavish compliance with laws which already breach the United Kingdom's obligations to the International Labour Organisation.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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