Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Employment rights and a possible Labour Government

Living, as I do, a wild life, I spent this evening at a public meeting on employment law in Brixton. Speakers addressed the Government's assault upon individual employment rights, that latest phase of which is in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill (http://www.xperthr.co.uk/article/114951/enterprise-and-regulatory-reform-bill-is-implemented.aspx) which is still passing through Parliament.

Chuka Umunna spoke well against what the Coalition are up to. The Bill seems poorly named since rather than "reform" regulation the Coalition want to rip it all up - and the only thing to do with "Enterprise" is that the Government are also on a "five year mission" (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek) - but theirs is to attack workers' rights.

Chuka couldn't tell us what we might find in the next Labour manifesto but (the tease!) he flashed us a bit of ankle by pointing out what we could read into Labour's consistent Parliamentary opposition to various specific retrograde steps (such as the extension of the qualifying period of employment before workers can bring unfair dismissal claims).

He also asked the audience what it is we (trade unionists) want in terms of collective employment rights from a future Labour Government. Professor Keith Ewing, of the Institute of Employment Rights, had the answer - which was that we should comply with our international treaty obligations.

That seems sound (and I don't only say that because he told me that my request for the Trade Union Freedom Bill (http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/index.cfm?mins=248&minors=244&majorsubjectid=2) or - at least - the Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill (http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-12/lawfulindustrialactionminorerrors.html) was too timid!

I think we trade unionists need to give more thought not only to how we shall deal with the Tory attacks on our employment rights but also the detail of our demands upon an incoming Labour Government.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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