The Workers Union is urging businesses to take responsibility for workers’ rights.
In a statement released this morning, a spokesperson for the organisation said: ‘The British press is buzzing with criticism of the Queen’s Speech for its failure to include legislation to protect and improve workers rights. While The Workers Union recognises the need for action at a political level, we believe that much more can and should be done by company chiefs and themselves. Whatever happens in parliament, execs should not wait for political coercion to make their businesses better places to work.’
The Queen’s speech provides the government of the day with a chance to outline its legislative priorities. It forms part of the State Opening of Parliament ceremony, which marks the beginning of the parliamentary year. This year it was delivered by Prince Charles – the first time in 59 years that the Queen has not attended the ceremony.
The government had been expected to outline plans for flexible working rights, as well as measures to ensure workers have the right to keep tips given to them by customers.
The plans were originally part of a new Employment Bill that was announced in the Queen’s Speech of 2019. It was designed to address concerns that protections afforded to British workers by EU law would be watered down now that the country has left the bloc.
The Workers Union Says…
The wave of concern that’s sweeping the Fourth Estate is understandable, but partially misplaced. Of course there is more to be done at a political level to ensure workers get a fair deal. Yet shifting the focus on to Parliament and away from business owners obscures the very real abuse of workers rights that bosses visit on their workers every day.
Some people suffer rampant job insecurity, while others work over their contracted hours without compensation. Others are forced to work in dangerous, dirty conditions for little financial reward. Some people are tasked with impossible workloads, then bullied and harassed when they fail to meet entirely arbitrary targets. Others experience insults because they have been discriminated against. Although legislation is a vitally important bulwark against these abuses of power for workers rights, enforcement and protection from the top should not be the whole of the story.
Forward thinking managers whose ethics align with a workers rights at work centric view of business operations know this to be true. And it is these people – and the companies that they work for – who have reaped the benefits of the ‘great resignation’ and continue to hoover up talent while others glance over their shoulders in the hope that the working climate will reset to pre-pandemic conditions.
This is a naive hope. There is change in the air, and that change is driven by corporate acknowledgement that workers perform best when they are looked after holistically. A recent story on these pages about Brewdog signposts one way forward from here. Other organisations have their own policies in place.
It is now up to every firm that is failing their workers to take these lessons on board, and improve their commitment to workers’ rights before events overtake them.