The TUC has today (Thursday) warned that government plans to weaken the Transfer of Undertakings and Protection of Employment (TUPE) regulations will drive down terms and conditions for vulnerable workers and make privatisation cheaper and quicker.
TUPE protects employees’ terms and conditions of work when a business is transferred from one owner to another. Staff automatically become employees of the new employer on the same terms and conditions as they were on before, and their continuity of service is also protected.
However, under the government’s plans TUPE will not always apply when services are outsourced.
These changes will lead to the erosion of the pay and conditions for low-paid staff in sectors such as cleaning, social care and catering where outsourcing is common, says the TUC. It argues this will have an adverse impact on women, who are more likely to be employed in contracted-out services than men.
In addition, employers will now be able to re-negotiate changes to collective agreements one year after transfer. This will give them extra flexibility to cut pay and conditions after a transfer takes place.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady (pictured, above) said: “The changes announced today could see hundreds of thousands of vulnerable workers lose out on vital protections at work. This is a deliberate attempt to make privatisation cheaper and quicker.
“Weakening guarantees on pay and conditions will encourage companies to compete for contracts based solely on wage and other employment costs, and not on the quality of service. This in turn will increase the risk of poverty wages for the many female employees who work in industries like catering, social care and cleaning where outsourcing is common.
“Today’s announcement will also see dismissal and redundancy rights watered down for outsourced workers. This is a blatant attack on the ability of unions to represent working people.”