MALCOLM TIPPER’S LEFT HAND VIEW April 2021

LEFT HAND VIEW – Workers’ Rights are being eroded….

The Labour Party has traditional links with Trade Unions and as a result is the only party truly interested in protecting the rights of working people. This Conservative Government and all of those before them, and that includes the Coalition Government, have sought to undermine the rights of working people.

A classic example surrounds the encouragement of the ‘gig economy’ allowing employers like Uber, Deliveroo and others to claim the people who work for them are self-employed. Being self-employed by this type of employer means being told when and where you work and how you work. Rather than the Tory Government stepping in to protect those workers from getting the minimum wage, holiday pay, national insurance contributions etc it is left to the courts to intervene and rectify these abuses.

The original dispute with Uber took place in 2016 when two employees took their case to an employment tribunal. In 2016 it could have cost the Uber employees up to £1200 to go to an Employment Tribunal. Fees had been introduced in 2013 by the Coalition Government Government. For those of a nervous disposition look away now, the Prime Minister was David Cameron and the Deputy Prime Minister was Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg (now you may have to Google him)

Again, it took the courts, following a trade union campaign, to overturn this decision and say that the Government had acted unconstitutionally in making the decision to introduce the fees. However there, have been recent reports indicating the current government is looking to reintroduce tribunal fees, making it too expensive for employees to contest a claim of say, unfair dismissal. This would certainly deter British Airways or British Gas employees from contesting their inferior pay and conditions offer under the attempt to fire and rehire being pursued by the companies. Companies like Amazon don’t want to recognise trade unions is it it because their pay and conditions are so poor?

We are now expected to believe that this Government in its delayed Employment Bill will introduce measures designed to protect and enhance workers rights now we have left the Common market. First in line may be the Working Time Directive that limited working hours to 48 per week, why individuals need to work more than 48 hours per week anyway in this day and age is hard to understand. Or would be if you discount how low wages are for many working people, so low that they need to be supplemented by working tax credit. If you are thinking that it is only a handful of firms who pay low wages then the Resolution think tank estimates 11,000 firms failed to pay the minimum wage in 2018-19. Firms who fail to comply are now fined and some big names are involved including Tesco whose chief executive had a pay package in 2020 amounting to £6.4million pounds whilst at the same time underpaying 78,199 of its employees.

Labour doesn’t want a gig economy, it wants proper jobs with good pay and conditions, as an everyday working person there is only one party that is on your side.