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From The Socialist newspaper, 2 November 2011

No return to hire and fire - Tories consider abolishing more workers' rights

Dave Gorton, Unite LE/372 branch

It's not the endless pursuit of profit or the speculation of bankers that has caused economic crisis; it is 'unproductive' and 'underperforming' workers. So says a leaked report by venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft. His solution? To scrap the 'concept' of unfair dismissal, allowing employers to sack workers more easily.

Employment legislation apparently encourages workers to 'coast along' and then win an unfair dismissal claim when sacked.

Beecroft proposes Compensated No Fault Dismissal which would allow employers to sack workers with basic redundancy pay and no legal appeal rights.

He admits this may lead employers to get rid of workers they "did not like"; but "while this is sad I believe it is a price worth paying".

There is no evidence that scrapping unfair dismissal would make businesses more "competitive and hence more likely to grow". What it would do is instil a climate of fear inside workplaces and give unscrupulous employers a mandate to hire and fire at will.

The British Chambers of Commerce's Abigail Morris incredibly claimed that most of the time employers "only know that the law's changed when they get a claim coming through from an employee that said they didn't do something that they should have been doing"!

If this is true, it highlights a level of incompetence that would put the human resources managers of such companies at risk of the new proposals themselves!

Beecroft's report didn't come out of the blue. Chancellor George Osborne was reported by the Daily Telegraph as supporting the findings. The government has already announced it will extend again the qualifying period for a worker to take their employer to an employment tribunal to two years after their employment starts.

For workers to have even a pretence of fair employment rights would require protection from day one of employment.

The report's leak is probably to test the water; it allows draconian proposals to become part of 'open' debate.

In times of mass unemployment, such reactionary views can even gain a foothold amongst the workforce, particularly if insufficiently challenged by trade unions.

The Trades Union Congress should state now that any attempts to weaken the rights of individual workers will be met with collective action by all.

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