Workplace rights delayed: a decision devoid of vision and compassion
I imagine other Touchstone contributors will want to comment on this announcement. But just to say quickly here what a truly terrible decision it is.
Firstly it will delay some small steps towards improving the job security and working conditions of the most vulnerable workers. That not only makes their working lives more miserable but means more poverty and deprivation outside the workplace. And let’s be honest here, delaying something until after the election – which could be won by a Conservative Party hostile to much employment regulation and wanting to “repatriate” all EU employment law – may well not be a delay but a death knell for these basic rights. No wonder the CBI, IoD and others are crowing with delight.
But it also displays how, even after the worst crash and recession in decades, our leading policy-makers are still struggling to break with the New Right nonsense that got us into this mess. The massed ranks of various business associations spent years telling us that any strengthening of workplace rights would threaten the UK’s economic miracle. For thirty years governments believed them. In fact, it was gross irresponsibility in The City that brought the economy down not better protection for the poorest and most mistreated. Now we are in recession, the massed ranks of business associations tell us that any strengthening of workplace rights would threaten the UK’s economic recovery. And still the Government believes them.
We now need brave politicians to stand up to business and make it clear that it is their job to generate wealth and growth that everyone can share in. We need a clear message that states that no longer will affluence for the majority be bought at the expense of a large minority. To continue along those lines is not only bad for the UK’s social and ethical well-being but is also bad for the economy and the public finances. A bad day for a Government that has been moving in the right direction in other areas.