Friday, 18 November 2016

Imagine if we'd been told the truth....

It's 1980, and here's the truth about what's coming:

"There's going to be a huge power grab.

We are going to start with the "non-core" workers. Cooks, cleaners, security guards and so on.

They won't be employed by your employer.  They will be sold to a third party provider.  The new employer will have two ways of making profits: cutting corners, and attacking the workers.

We realise you won't want this, so new laws will prevent you from taking industrial action to support them or stop us.  The new laws will help us carve up public services so our mates can
profit from them,

We'll issue new entrants with worse contracts and lower pay.

Over time we'll replace the permanent contract with a temporary one.   Union solicitors will spoil our fun with those, so we will move to using agencies.

Unions and left leaning politicians across Europe will eventually force through agency worker regulations, but we will find ways around them.

By 2000, we will have completely defeated the millions of "non-core" workers,   Pay and conditions will be nailed to the floor.  They will have no security and no prospects.  We will expect full flexibility and the right to impose whatever changes we want.

But absolute victory - bordering upon humiliation - will not be enough.

Our development of "zero hour contracts" will be remarkably successful.  By 2015 we'll have well over one million people on them.  And the beauty is, we will widely introduce them into core workforces across the private sector. To get away with it, we'll ensure unions are kept out of the emerging new private sector.

These awful contracts will attract publicity, so we'll work hard at persuading the public that people really do like, want and need them.

In 2016 there will still be around 1.4 million people on an agency contract.  Many of these workers
will stay on the same placement for years.  But we will get away with it, plus it will be years before anyone notices our tax dodges.

We won't manage to kill the permanent contract.  But our friends in parliament will
give us the right to sack at will for the first two years in the job.,  We will be irritated by EU workplace discrimination laws, but we'll lobby hard and continue to move things our way.

But there will still be millions of people on permanent contracts with access to justice.  To stop this we will get close to bringing in "no fault dismissals", but the Tories bottle it. This will
trouble us, but as an interim measure we do get given the introduction of fees for Employment Tribunals. With fees, hardly anyone will be able to afford to claim so most bosses will have not worries.  Union members will still be able to take us on, but we will manage to de-recognise lots of them following TUPE transfers.

Best of all, our friends domination of the media will mean that most people will be ignorant of our sweeping power grab.  Our plan is brilliantly clever, and will all happen so gradually that you lot won't notice.  By 2016, over seven million people will be exploited.  Coordinated pro-business action will take place across the globe, particularly in the English speaking countries. There will be concerted efforts to use popular media across the world to demonise Trade Unions.

As for unionised permanent workers, we are delighted that new laws for 2016 will further weaken the right to strike, Better still, new laws will squeeze the cash unions can give to the Labour Party.

For at least the next 35 years or more, global corporations will pull the industrial strings of the UK. Our work will never be done.

Any political challenger will be ruthlessly savaged.

Overall, we will be very satisfied indeed with the way things are going."



It's great that Zero Hour contracts are unpopular, and there's a chance of them getting banned or scaled back.

But banning them completely is little more than applying a plaster at a time when major surgery is needed.  There are growing calls to overhaul employment law to take account of the gig economy. There are also calls for union protection for foreign workers.

But employment laws have been constructed to enable a miserable and never ending race to the bottom, There's downwards pressure on terms and conditions across all sectors of the economy. This trend has continued in good times as well as bad. This is not market forces, it's a market stitch up. The market is only "free" for those parts of it that global capital likes.  A truly free market would not have regulated Trade Unions.

The balance at work between worker and employer has moved way, way too far in the employers favour.

So what should be done?

We've been attacked on so many fronts for so long, I favour two very simple changes to redress the balance.

1. As things stand, it is assumed you won't be in a Trade Union. You must positively opt in to join one. I believe we should flip this the other way: all workers to be automatically enrolled into a union, with the right to leave whenever you like.  A small change yes, but one that would restore the ability of workers to be paid and treated properly.

2. For anyone not on a permanent contract, I believe they should be exempt from any Trade Union legislation & free to take any collective action they choose.   Dodgy contracts would soon disappear.....