A recent report, drawn up by Tory party donor Adrian Beecroft, called for employers to be given the right to dismiss unproductive employees with no explanation. Vince Cable will appear in the House of Commons in just half an hour to answer urgent questions from Labour’s Chuka Umunna regarding this report and any government involvement in this potential policy. I believe that Chuka Umunna and the Labour party must fight this proposal hard, as its implementation would lead to a huge backward step in the continuing search for worker’s rights.
Beecroft’s proposal argues that red-tape and bureaucratic rules (no doubt many brought in by EU legislation) make it far too difficult for employers to sack unproductive employees and as such businesses are being damaged by the continued presence of workers who do not pull their weight. Furthermore, it has been argued that the complex, legal processes involved in dismissing unproductive workers means that businesses are less inclined to employ new workers as they fear being unable to rid themselves of these workers if it turns out that they are incapable of doing their job effectively and professionally.
However, the truth about this proposal is that it remains part of an ideological agenda from the Conservative party to restore a Victorian era hierarchy in the workplace that makes employees beholden to their employers and in constant fear for their livelihoods.
Conservatives argue that the red-tape surrounding employer-employee relations has meant that businesses find the processes of hiring and firing too stressful and expensive an ordeal, leading to a lack of business confidence in job-creation. This, they argue, has a negative effect on the economy as employers are put off hiring workers and job creation is lowered, particularly damaging in a time of recession. However, this measure would have only a negative effect on the economy. If a culture of on the spot sackings was to be introduced into British business, we would soon find that, workers, in fear of losing their jobs, were hoarding capital rather than spending, as they lived their lives precariously balanced on a knife-edge waiting for the push of their employer which would send their household into economic oblivion, for no reason whatsoever. The amount of consumer spending therefore would inevitably drop were these proposals introduced and the economy would suffer as a result.
Furthermore, Britons have spent centuries fighting for, and gaining, rights in the workplace to protect the jobs of the most vulnerable in society. It is fair, and right, that an employer should give a credible, fair reason for the dismissal of any employee. Even given the rights won by Britons in the past, Britain still has relatively low workers’ protection legislation when compared with much of the developed world, so to strip away the few rights that British workers have would be wrong.
We cannot make it acceptable for employers to arbitrarily remove jobs from the working-class on a whim. This would lead to the abuse of employees and have a detrimental effect on the economy. The Labour party, in tandem with the unions, must protect the rights of British workers and not allow ideological conservatives to return Britain to a state whereby workers are vulnerable to the business and upper classes.