EMMA LEWELL-BUCK: Ensuring workers’ hard-won rights are protected
Whilst most of us struggled through the pandemic supporting communities, friends and families in one of the worst times in living memory, some of our nation’s biggest and respected organisations such as British Airways and British Gas saw the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to carve up their loyal workforce’s terms and conditions, telling them if you don’t like it then you’re out of a job.
The practice spread into education, factories and smaller organisations. The Trade Union Congress found this year that three million people have experienced these tactics, being threatened with pay cuts, cuts to sick pay, reduced redundancy and scrapping of paid breaks.
As we saw with zero hours contracts, if unscrupulous employers can treat their workers in this way and the Government gives them free rein then they will keep doing it.
Parliament will soon see a Private Members Bill making this awful practice illegal and will be put to a vote. The Prime Minister has put his MPs on notice to attend, no doubt to try and vote it down.
Apparently, the Government doesn't want to introduce heavy handed legislation to outlaw this practice, yet they are content for these companies to rake in millions in profits using a heavy handed approach to towards their workers.
It is the younger workers, working-class workers and BAME workers who are disproportionately affected by this, those least likely to have the means to fight their employers. That is why our trade unions have been leading this fight with over 200 MPs, including myself, to make sure hard-won workers’ rights are protected.
The Prime Minister has claimed this practice is ‘unacceptable as a negotiating tactic’, yet as usual, has done nothing at all to put a stop to it. He knows it’s wrong, he knows it is causing misery, pushing people into impossible situations where they are going to struggle to make their rent or mortgage payments, struggling with soaring living costs despite being in employment.
Under this Government work has ceased to be a way out of poverty, instead the Tories expect people to work for their poverty.