Tories accused of sneaking through laws making it easier to sack workers

by - 18th March 2013, 8.30 BST

Big Ben parliamentUnite has accused the Tory-led government of planning to sneak through legislation to make it easier to sack workers – permanently threatening employment and eroding job security in the UK.

The government is planning to cut the consultation period for collective redundancies from 90 to 45 days. But the vote will take place today in a committee room at a delegated legislation committee rather than a full vote in the House of Commons.

Currently employers planning to make 100 or more redundancies must consult with employee representatives at least 90 days before any dismissals take effect – to help minimise the impact and seek possible alternatives to redundancies.

The current collective redundancies legislation helps to save jobs, saves money for employers, secures a better deal for workers, safeguards vital skills and develops stronger business models going forward. There is no evidence that cutting the consultation period will help employers.

Unite has advised the government of instances when the 90-day consultation period has ensured that the union has had enough time to work with companies to save jobs.

In 2009, when Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) was facing serious financial difficulties, the company proposed making over 1000 staff redundant. However by extending the consultation period, which was agreed with Unite and JLR,  both sides were able to find £70 million of savings without making any redundancies. JLR has now gone on to produce top models which have propelled the company out of economic difficulties into a massive success story for UK manufacturing, creating thousands of skilled jobs.

The union fears that employers less committed to Britain will view the shortened 45-day period as a fast-track to exit.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: ”At a time when Britain’s economy has flatlined and jobs are in short supply the Tory-led government is trying to sneak through legislation to make it easier to sack workers.

“The government is giving bad bosses the green light to sack workers, then ask questions later.  It is telling companies that they do not have to commit to Britain’s workers – in fact,  the government is offering a fast-track ticket to exit.

“There is absolutely no logic to these proposals. Britain faces the worst economic conditions in decades but this government wants to make it easier to make workers redundant.

“JLR which is now a major success story for British manufacturing was saved in the UK because Unite and the employer extended the consultation period in order to save over 1,000 jobs. Without this extended consultation, JLR would not have been the success story it is today, creating thousands of skilled manufacturing jobs.

“Britain already has the weakest employment laws in Europe. This is Tory ideological dogma at its worst and the Liberal Democrats are sitting on their hands while they let the Tories go to work on our rights with a sledgehammer.”