31 January 2014
The Coalition’s new TUPE regulations came into effect today (31 January 2014), weakening protection for workers whose jobs are being transferred to a new employer.
Among the changes is that new owners of an organisation will be able to tear up collective agreements made with the previous employer just 12 months after a takeover, opening up the opportunity for them to significantly reduce pay and conditions for employees.
The government has introduced the new rules at a time when it is encouraging the privatisation of formerly public services, including through outsourcing to private companies, which will be eager to cut pay to staff in order to maximise profits.
Public sector workers – who have already been hit by hundreds of thousands of redundancies, pay freezes, and insecure conditions at the workplace – could now lose out on wages, pensions and working conditions too.
TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Watering down TUPE law means hundreds of thousands of vulnerable workers around the UK will lose out on vital protections at work. This is a deliberate bid by government to make privatisation cheaper and quicker.”
“The government is sending a clear signal to employers that the rights and pay of low-paid workers are not important at a time when living standards are being hugely squeezed. Ministers should be addressing poverty pay, not weakening vital workplace rights,” she added.
O’Grady also noted that making it easier to outsource public operations based on cost and profit will have a detrimental effect on the public’s experience of fundamental services such as caring for the elderly – a sector that has already been widely criticised for near-abusive levels of service due to the number of corners cuts by private companies pushing their workers to provide care in an extremely short amount of time, sometimes without paying them enough to make up the minimum wage, and often employing them on insecure zero-hours contracts.
“Weakening guarantees on pay and conditions will encourage unscrupulous companies to compete for contracts based solely on low costs and not on quality of services,” she explained.