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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 January 2013

Making it easier to sack workers

Dave Gorton, Unite LE/372 branch

In another attack on union-won gains of the past, the government has announced that, from April 2013, it is to slash the redundancy consultation period from 90 to 45 days.

Laughingly, Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrat employment relations minister claimed changes were aimed at helping workers as well as employers.

Currently, employers must consult with staff for a minimum of 30 days before making more than 20 staff redundant, or 90 days when 100 or more jobs are at risk.

Swinson claimed: "The process is usually completed well within the existing 90-day minimum period, which can cause unnecessary delays for restructuring and make it difficult for those affected to get new jobs quickly".

What rubbish! How many of us have noticed a clamour from workers facing redundancy to be out of a job more quickly? If there had been widespread problems, trade unions would have been making demands to fix them years ago!

The plans remove redundancy rights from fixed-term contract staff, many of whom are not 'temporary workers' covering maternity leave or sickness, but long-term employees. At a stroke, these workers will lose any current job security.

Needless to say, employers' organisations wholeheartedly welcomed the announcement - you wouldn't expect any different response from bosses being told it will now be easier to sack people! The head of employment and skills at EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, went further by saying: "[The government] now needs to complete the package by introducing simpler settlement agreements and protected conversations."

Protected conversations mean employers will be able to 'talk to' staff about possible termination deals without having to worry about those conversations being referred to in subsequent employment tribunal cases. Not much scope for bullying, harassment and unfair dismissals there then!

This is just the next stage in this government's plans to create a 'flexible labour market' - the reintroduction of a hire and fire culture that unions spent the greater part of the 20th century trying to eradicate. Such plans need stronger opposition than just denunciations in the press.

The TUC is currently consulting on the idea of a one-day general strike. The doubling of the time before a worker can claim unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal to two years, cutting the redundancy consultation period and further attacks in the pipeline, are all further reasons why such a united response - in action not just words - is needed from the TUC.

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In The Socialist 9 January 2013:


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