Commenting on the employment rights proposals contained in the Queen's Speech today (Wednesday), Midlands TUC Regional Secretary Rob Johnston (above) said,
"It is a myth that stripping away employee rights will boost growth or create jobs. This is no more than a bad boss's charter that will make people insecure at work and will feed straight into lower consumer confidence.
"Even where legal protections remain, the government is to undermine them by reducing inspections or making it far more difficult to take tribunal cases - which have been falling over the past year, contrary to claims from some business organisations.
"The UK already has the second lowest level of worker protection among the 36 rich countries in the OECD, and the government has made it possible for employers to sack staff for no reason for up to two years from when they start. The government's own surveys show that excess regulation is cited by only six per cent of small and medium sized businesses as a big barrier to growth. Their real problems are the depressed economy and difficulties with bank lending.
"This agenda is likely to be controversial within government. The lack of evidence that it will help the economy shows that this is driven by the hard-right agenda set out in the secret report by Wonga owner and Tory donor Adrian Beecroft. Those who opposed the minimum wage are using the economic crisis as an excuse to roll back modest employee protection.
"In particular we will oppose lump-sum benefits in lieu of maternity pay and cuts to maternity rights that will particularly hit poorer mothers. 'Protected conversations' in which employers are free from legal constraints are deeply unfair to employees and likely to be unworkable in practice. Removing rights from staff in small businesses will turn them into second class citizens at work, and make it harder for smaller firms to recruit good staff.
"Of course any modest increase in rights to request flexible working is welcome, but this should not obscure the fact that this government is taking the workplace backwards."