Profit will be put over people in the workplace

20 December 2012 Sarah Glenister, IER staff The second in a series of articles using the Coalition Timeline to look at the various ways the Coalition has attacked workers' rights in the last two and a half years.

Commentary icon20 Dec 2012|Comment

Sarah Glenister

National Development Officer, Institute of Employment Rights

20 December 2012

Sarah Glenister, IER staff

The second in a series of articles using the Coalition Timeline to look at the various ways the Coalition has attacked workers’ rights in the last two and a half years.

No surprises to any of us that the Coalition Timeline reveals continued efforts by the government to put profit over workers. Our Increasing Vulnerability in the Workplace category mostly shows the Coalition’s fight for deregulation. They have launched the Red Tape Challenge and Focus on Enforcement – two websites on which the public (read ‘businesses’) are invited to complain about inspectors enforcing the law in a way they find burdening, or workers’ rights that are just too bothersome to respect.

Calling it a Red Tape ‘Bonfire’, the Coalition government has introduced some rather arbitrary targets to slash legislation, including employment rights. Back in 2010, it announced that any new legislation that could incur a cost to businesses would be offset by the removal of legislation already costing them around the same amount. This was the so called ‘one-in one-out’ plan. Recently, the Coalition has upped the stakes with its ‘one-in, two-out plan’, which will see deregulation progress at twice the rate.

Why do the Tory’s put profit over workers quite so much? Perhaps it is because they are listening to their backbenchers, who have in the past year described British workers as “lazy”, told them to work harder and for longer and complained that regulating businesses kills dynamism. Many of these comments came from the powerful think tank the Free Enterprise Group, which is led by several backbench Tories. The Free Enterprise Group are not alone among hard-right think tanks that are said to have the ear of the Prime Minister and Chancellor, with Policy Exchange and Conservative Voice two other influential organisations. In fact, Policy Exchange Leader Neil O’Brien was recently recruited by George Osborne in an effort to change the face of the Tory Party.

The Timeline also reveals further evidence of the divide between the Liberal Democrats and the Tory Party, with sources telling the Telegraph that right-wing hardliner Michael Fallon was brought in as Business Minister behind Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable’s back. According to the insiders, Cable was uneasy about the proposals of venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft and Fallon was brought in to move the department further in the direction of following the payday chief’s recommendations.

One of the only things holding the government back from abolishing many rights in the workplace is EU law, which the Coalition now only except at a bare minimum. But with a party full of Eurosceptics and heavyweight Boris Johnson publically calling for a withdrawal from the Social Chapter, even this scant protection is under threat.

Click here to visit the Timeline. In order to see just Increasing vulnerability in the workplace stories click the spanner in the bottom left of the timeline, select ‘categories’, then select ‘Increasing vulnerability in the workplace’.

The IER will be taking an in-depth look at recent changes affecting workers early next year as part of our Workplace issues: Learning from the frontline conferences. Click here to book your place.

Click here to see more articles from this series

Sarah Glenister

Sarah Glenister Sarah Glenister Sarah Glenister is the Institute of Employment Rights' IT Development and Communications Assistant.