From the TUC

Financial crisis leads to Conservative attack on workplace rights

12 Oct 2008, by Guest in Economics, Labour market, Politics, Working Life

I thought this would happen just not so soon.  Those ‘compassionate conservatives’ are already using the threat of recession to argue for a reduction in workplace rights.  This is no backbench fundamentalist sounding off. It’s a major intervention by Mark Prisk who is, apparently, the Shadow Business Secretary and Chris Grayling, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.  Prisk, in particular, has called for the recent deal improving rights for agency workers (and supported by the CBI!) to be overturned.  Grayling wants the priority to be deregulation over the next two years. The reason: to create jobs.  I can think of three reasons immediately why this is daft (not to mention cruel).

First, Prisk and Grayling obviously have not noticed that one of the lessons of the last few weeks is that the UK’s relatively high employment levels had nothing to do with our flexible labour market – it was the result of a high growth economy built in large part on debt and risky financial innovation and which has recently come crashing down.

Second, to deregulate further now would make it easier for employers to sack workers not more likely to hire them. 

Third, if the Tories had anything like a strategy to get us out of the recession, they might have considered that the UK will now need to focus on boring, hard stuff like building up sound companies through high productivity, genuine innovation and exports.  That is much more likely to occur when employers can’t take the short cut to higher profits through low pay or sackings.  Look at Germany for example.

I could also mention the irony of the fact that in the same week that Cameron paints himself as the friend of greater regulation of the City (apparently atoning for the deregulation of financial services in the 1980s which started this mess), his colleagues are arguing that we need the precise opposite for the rest of the economy.

4 Responses to Financial crisis leads to Conservative attack on workplace rights

  1. Mad World
    Oct 13th 2008, 4:36 pm

    Mental health services in England, the credit crunch and depression…

    Two major things worth pointing out today.Mental health servics in England are a model for the rest of Europe, according to the World Health Organisation. We’re very good at slagging things off in this country, so it’s nice to take……

  2. Mad World
    Oct 13th 2008, 6:29 pm

    Mental health services in England, the credit crunch and depression…

    Two major things worth pointing out today. Mental health servics in England are a model for the rest…

  3. Forget rights and fairness, there’s a recession on! | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC
    Oct 13th 2008, 9:34 pm

    […] anything more from business on climate change etc. etc.”  This was the gist of the Tory intervention yesterday on the agency workers deal and a very senior accountant used it today on me when I […]

  4. Restricting workers rights does not protect us from unemployment | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC
    Oct 17th 2008, 2:59 pm

    […] is also no evidence that reduced rights for UK workers have supported economic growth. As Adam has pointed out we now know that the last ten years have been built on debt and unsustainable risk […]