Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Workers of the world unite to lose rights

I must admit as I read George Osborne's plan for the future of our workforce I became frightened, angry and then laughed at the irony.

The basics of stage one is good. Offering employees the chance to buy shares in their companies and so they get a say in its direction. For smaller companies it means there is a definite togetherness and ethos that if this ship sinks we all go down and must pull together. For larger companies it offers the chance for those in the frontline to voice their ideas and concerns, something that a lot of us in the trenches feel should happen as some managers have lost touch with what is going on and are happy to ignore their workers concerns as nothing more than "Nay saying." Indeed I know of one manager who said "You can't have the staff dictating to the managers" but at times I really think there needs to be a two way dialogue and managers should listen to their foot soldiers a lot more as our livelihood is dependent on the business being successful to.

Any way - that's ok. I like that. I understand its a Libdem proposal too which makes it win win...

Now comes the bad thing.

Employees will be offered £2-50,000 shares in the company and no Capital gains tax on any profit you make that way at the expense of.... their rights.

Yes that's right. No more unfair dismissal tribunals, extra notice for returning after maternity work, no more redundancy money, no more time off for training.

Here's what George said in his speech;

Workers: replace your old rights of unfair dismissal and redundancy with new rights of ownership. And what will the government do? We will charge no capital gains tax at all on the profit you make on your shares. Zero percent capital gains tax for these new employee-owners. Get shares and become owners of the company you work for. Owners, workers and the taxman, all in it together. Workers of the world unite.

I don't want to sound to reactionary or knee jerk and hopefully this will be explained more over the coming weeks but my instant response is; WHAT? HOW HAVE WE SIGNED OFF ON THIS??

It seems like a return to Victorian working, we are all to be worthless drones that toil on with no rights.

Don't get me wrong, I've worked with some really inept staff that management haven't been able to get rid of and as an employee who pulls their weight I do get cross that they're hands are tied and some dead weight is getting paid the same as I am and doing a third of the work. However, in genuine cases there will be no recourse for unfair dismissal. If the company goes down the pan and has to let you go you could get nothing for your years of toil. It seems an awful gamble.

There is the safety net that existing employees don't have to have it but it will be mandatory for new employees as of April as George rushes all these reforms through the back door after Doctor Vince ruled out these suggestions and said he was against the Hire and fire culture. I can understand the need to may be bend rules so that small companies can try and get rolling and any help they can get in this economic times is worth a punt but this? This seems a step too far in the wrong direction.

I really hope there is some real depth to these proposals that will belay this mild panic I find myself in and if there aren't that the party will stand by the liberties and hard fought rights of this nation's workers and obstruct this if they can. These rights have been hard fought by generations over centuries and now they could all vanish with a flurry of new policy that George is trying to rush through. This should be opposed.

In a climate where I find myself worrying about redundancy, being shipped over to an agency, being made redundant then offered a less conducive contract or rota - these new declarations are adding to my fear for my future and that of everyone else like me. We want to be valued as workers but treated as human beings with rights that help us safeguard our jobs, livelihoods and families.

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