FibDem Attack On Workers’ Rights

23 Nov 2011

On top of cuts that stalled economy recovery, FibDems attack the rights of ordinary workers while they have yet to lay a finger on the multi- millionaire elite whose misdeeds and greed led us into this deep economic depression says GMB.

GMB responded to proposals from Vince Cable on employment law announced in speech to employers in London on 23rd November. See Notes to editors for extract of speech. 

Paul Kenny GMB General Secretary said “This agenda is being driven by CBI who want the balance of power in the workplace tilted even more against the ordinary worker.  These changes will make it harder for hundreds of thousands of workers to bring cases of victimisation, unfairness and bullying at work.  This will just sweep abuse under the carpet. Last year 218,000 workers felt that they had no other way to deal problems at work.

Lib Dems are making life at work harder for people. On top of cuts that stalled economy recovery Lib Dems attack the rights of ordinary workers while they have yet to lay a finger on the multi- millionaire elite whose misdeeds and greed led us into this deep economic depression. We now know that Lib Dems in government in practice attack the 99% and support the 1%.

Changing the balance on tribunals to a single legally qualified chair with the voice of business and the shop floor removed will weaken the system.  It is a retro grade step which will make the tribunals more legalistic not less so.” 

Notes to editors

On Wednesday (23rd), Vince Cable gave a speech at the EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, to a selection of businesses on the topic of deregulation of employment law.  This is an extract.

“the package of measures includes an overhaul of employment tribunals so that:

All claims will to go to ACAS to be offered pre-claim conciliation before going to an employment tribunal.
Unfair dismissal qualification period will rise from one to two years in April 2012.
A consultation will be published next year on protected conversations which allows employers to discuss issues like retirement or poor performance in an open manner with staff - without this being used in any subsequent tribunal claims.
A further consultation will be published on simplifying the use of compromise agreements (where employers pay an agreed amount to an individual if both parties agree the employment contract should end).
We will explore options for a rapid resolution scheme - an alternative system of determining cases, to provide quicker, cheaper decisions in low-value, more straightforward claims.
The tribunal system will be streamlined - removing witness expenses, taking witness statements as read and needing only one judge in unfair dismissal cases. Mr Justice Underhill will also undertake a Fundamental Review of the Rules of Procedure governing Employment Tribunals and will report back to Ministers next year.
The use of mediation will be encouraged between parties by introducing a regional pilot scheme for SMEs.
These reforms to tribunals will deliver £10.1 million of One In One Out savings, with direct benefits of more than £40 million to all employers (this includes public sector employers). Conciliation could reduce the number of claims by 25 per cent.

With 218,000 claims received by Employment Tribunals last year (2010-11) -
a rise of 44 per cent on 2008-09 - and businesses spending almost £4,000 on average to defend themselves against a claim, we’ve heard businesses loud and clear.

With more than 400 responses to the Resolving Workplace Disputes consultation we know the system has become too costly, takes too much time, and that it is too easy to make unmerited or vexatious claims. We’re particularly concerned that it places unnecessary strains on small businesses. The system isn’t working for employers or employees.

Last year the Government started a fundamental review of employment law to ensure that it is fit for purpose, that it properly balances the needs of employers and employees, and provides the competitive environment required for businesses to thrive. As part of this we are also announcing:

A Call for Evidence on the Collective Redundancies consultation rules -  looking at the impact of reducing the current 90 day consultation period, possibly to 60,45 or even 30 days. Evidence suggests that the current 90 day period is too restrictive for businesses and in periods of redundancy doesn’t give them enough flexibility with their business plans.”