Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Nick Clegg stops the Tories giving employers right to fire at will

The Guardian reports today that Nick Clegg has put his foot down to stop the Tories from proceeding any further with the daft recommendations in the report by a venture capitalist, Adam Beecroft.  The Beecroft plan would have made it very easy for employer to fire people  they decided were underperforming.

Now, frankly, if any of our lot had touched these ideas with a ten foot bargepole, my howls of rage would have been audible from the International Space Station. Beecroft's ideas are just a charter for employers to abuse their staff, manage by intimidation and fear and make life very unpleasant for everyone. I don't, therefore, deliver any special praise to Nick for stopping this. It's the very least I would expect from the leader of a party which wants to protect ordinary people from the abuse of power.

It is indicative, though, of  how the Tories think. They would clearly have been quite happy to implement some version of Beecroft's ideas. Their mindset is focused on making the rich richer rather than seeing thing from the  ordinary person's point of view. If they had their way, we'd have unlimited working hours, no sick pay and a treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen culture which would be horrendous. And guess who would be the first to be fired - people with family and caring responsibilities, who are more likely to be women.

We don't see things like that - we value people, we want to nurture them and we recognise that they don't work in a vacuum. There are times when even their best won't be good enough if they have a difficult situation at home. . If there are issues with performance, we think that a bit of effort and understanding on the part of the employer should be able to turn things around. If that doesn't work, then it is already easy enough to fire someone.

What this episode shows is what the Tories governing alone would be like. Who would stop them not just  salivating at the thought of people being fired at will but actually making it happen? Nobody. We'd be sat on the opposition benches powerless to do anything about it. If we hadn't gone into full coalition with the intention of staying there for the full five years, the Tories would have held another election in October and would have had a majority on their own. It might have been a small one - in which case the Tory right, like Nadine Dorries, Peter Bone and Julian Lewis would be key influencers on Government policy.  Frankly, I'd much rather our lot were in there to moderate the Tories, and I suspect most people in this country feel the same way.

We've already influenced NHS and welfare reforms, stopped the Tories from abolishing the Human Rights Act, made sure that tax cuts went to the lowest paid and not rich, dead people, stopped the Tories wasting a fortune on a tax break for married couples and introduced a pupil premium. Pension increases and restoring the pensions/earnings link are Liberal Democrat, not Tory ideas.

Yes, it's not perfect - and on employment rights, I'm not at all impressed that the time limit before people have  recourse to an employment tribunal is being doubled - but we are doing a lot of good. We really need to stand tall and be proud of those achievements.


cynicalHighlander said...

Poverty suicide couple had warned of hopeless situation

“The job centre decided Helen couldn't sign on as she was incapable of employment as she has no literacy and numeracy skills. “

“However, the incapacity people wouldn't recognise her disabilities which led to month after month of seeing specialists. We're in a catch 22 situation,“ he said.

Without money, the couple were forced to live hand to mouth on vegetables they got from a soup kitchen in Coventry, a 12-mile round trip on foot.

Without the the LibDems the Tories would be a minority government but the city of Westminster needs come before the poor and your party hierachy want in on the self benefits for themselves.

Unknown said...

That is a horrible, heartbreaking story. I hate to think of things like that happening - a sign of a flawed system that must be changed.

Viridis Lumen said...

It is welcome that the proposal has been knocked on its head, though it does not remove the fact that Ed Davey's current changes to employment law will extend the ability of employers to fire at will without even the compensatory payment suggested by the Tories from 12 to 24 months after starting a job - the only comeback anyone will have will be if they can identify a breach of discrimination law; Nick Clegg also reiterated his call for so called "protected discussions" which would appear to allow employers to say virtually anything to their employees without any redress.

There are already plenty of processes for employers to raise legitimate work issues with staff with relatively little risk - with 85% of workers with the status of employee, I'm sorry, but I can't see that the LD wing of the Coalition is doing little to protect people in these difficult and insecure times.


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