11 June 2015
Anna Soubry, the Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise, dodged questions about Trade Unions and working rights in PMQs.
Replying to a Tory’s suggestion that the UK and Scottish governments should work together to “reduce the burden of red tape on businesses”, she said “My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and other UK Ministers and officials meet business groups in Scotland regularly”.
She continued; “It is imperative that Administrations right across the United Kingdom work together to reduce the burden of red tape and deregulate as much as they can. We achieved £10 billion of benefit to small businesses and other sectors under the previous Government, and our aim is to achieve another £10 billion of savings for the benefit of everybody in the United Kingdom.”
As we know, reducing red tape is a euphemism for the further decimation of basic employment rights.
When probed by Labour MP for Blaydon, David Anderson, it transpired that Soubry had not met with a single trade union in Scotland.
Blaydon said; “From what the Minister has just said,it is quite clear that she has regular discussions with business, but no discussions with trade unions. It is clear that trade union association is a matter of human rights, and that the right to strike makes the difference between people being workers and being slaves. Will she assure the House that she will listen to the voice of the trade unions, and will she confirm that these rules will not breach International Labour Organisation conventions?”, a request which she evaded.
The issue of the governments failure to properly prosecute minimum evaders was also presented to Soubry, again in the Scottish context.
Nick Smith, Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent, asked how many companies in Scotland have been prosecuted for non-compliance with the national minimum wage since 2010, to which the answer was none.
Smith replied; “That is just not good enough… why not give local authorities the powers to tackle bad employers and enforce the minimum wage properly?
The IER has an event, Human Rights: possibilities and problems for labour law, coming up in London on July 1. Book your place now.