Protecting the rights of working people is central to the mission of The Workers Union. We believe that the ability to hold employers to account is a defining feature of a civilised society.
Without the protective effects of legislation, working people would be left to rely on the whims of corporations and business owners, resulting in a nineteenth century labour market where employees are hired, fired and exploited at will.
Why is this important?
For ancient history, read modern events. The Workers Union published a recent news article arguing that Brexit can work if the Conservative government honours its commitment to upholding – and improving – the employment rights enshrined in EU law. At the moment it’s unclear how or when this will happen. But what is certain is that any backsliding will take this country to a very dark place where protections are watered down, and employers are allowed to get away with bad behaviour.
Should we be worried?
Given the current make-up of the Tory cabinet, the answer is yes. Dominic Raab MP, a keen advocate of ‘Compensated No Fault Dismissal’ (a legal provision that would allow employers to sack “unproductive” staff with only basic redundancy pay at short notice) is known to see current employment laws as a ‘straightjacket’ for business in this country. Meanwhile Pritti Patel and Sajid Javid regard the outgoing EU employment laws as a ‘burden’ on our economy.
It’s clear that given half the chance the Tories will scrap every recourse to legal protection – a bonfire of legislation that will turn the UK into a low-tax, low-regulation wasteland in which business leaders hold absolute authority over their muzzled employees.
What about the trade deals?
The Workers Union agrees that positioning the country as a hub for international trade is the right way forward. But in any trade agreement, both parties have to arrive at an equitable arrangement before there’s any serious advantage. The UK will be negotiating on its own for the first time in five decades, with no falling back on the brokering muscles of its former EU partners. In any deal with more powerful economies, coming to an accord is going to mean making concessions. And that could see the much-vaunted trade talks with the USA herald the beginning of lower employment standards.
The United States of America is not known for its employee-friendly policies. There’re no nationally applicable laws that specify conditions for holiday or sick pay. Workers can be hired one day and fired another without receiving any form of compensation. Unions are barely tolerated and only a tiny percentage of the total workforce belong to one. And the bad news is that a measure of this behaviour has already infiltrated these shores: In the last six months, The Workers Union has called out Walmart (Asda’s parent company), Amazon and Uber as adopting poor working conditions.
How does this play with the government? Well, the bald truth is that it needs deals with other countries, and it needs them quick. What price the ‘adopted’ employment rights are burned on the altar of chlorinated chicken?
In 2020/21 we are running a event that asks for immediate clarity on workers’ rights – including more detail of the skeleton proposals in last December’s Queen’s Speech.
More specifically we want to see:
- Current provisions for maternity leave and paternity leave protected and improved
- A reduction of the qualification period before an employee can take their employer to court for unfair dismissal from 2 years to 1 year
- Zero hours contracts abolished
- No more fees for taking cases to employment tribunals
- All other existing employment laws protected
Despite sounding the warning bells, we still believe that Brexit represents an excellent opportunity to deliver a package of protections that will be the envy of the world. The question of whether this will come to pass depends on the amount of scrutiny we are able to subject the government of the day to through lobbying, policy work and collective bargaining.
So, join here and help us stand up for your future. Together we can make a difference.