Friday, 22 April 2011

Red tape or justice? The threat to employment rights

We already have some of the worst employment legislation in the developed world, thanks to New Labour's failure to repeal anti-union legislation and its continual pandering to the big-business lobby. But while New Labour failed to do much to help working people, the cabinet of Con-Dem millionaires has no such scruples about helping their class.

Employment Tribunals have never provided justice. The starkest example is the fact that a tribunal can order an employer to reinstate someone who they unfairly dismissed, but the employer is free to defy that order and pay (inadequate) compensation instead. If someone steals property, rather than someone's job, they are expected to give it back - but the law treats a worker's livelihood as far less important than property.

But the Tories and their Lib-Dem supporters want to make things even worse. They regard it as unfair, unreasonable "red-tape" that an employer who unfairly dismisses an employee can be legally challenged at all, and want to remove this meagre protection from around 3 million workers who have been employed for between one and two years.

That's 3 million more reasons to kick out this rotten government.

UNITE Executive Council election results 2011

UNITE has published the election results on its web site. Note that the results for 6 seats have not yet been decided pending rulings from the election commissioner. These are the South East region; Aerospace and Shipbuilding; Docks, Rail, Ferries and Waterways; and the National BAEM constituencies.

This is a good result for the United Left, winning 40 of the 59 seats declared so far. The new Executive faces a great responsibility, given the economic and political attacks members are facing.

Less pleasing is the poor level of participation. A number of seats (including my own) were uncontested, while the turnout where votes took place ranged from 4.7% to 10.9%. It is unsurprising that this is lower than the turnout in the recent General Secretary election (16%) as that was a simpler election and attracted far more media interest. Nonetheless, it is another sign of how much work needs to be done to strengthen union organisation so that more members feel the union is their own.

Friday, 15 April 2011

General Secretary's Report from March UNITE EC meeting

In an impressive turn of speed, the General Secretary's report from the UNITE Executive Council (EC) meeting on 29-31 March 2011 is out. I will send it on to UNITE members on request.

I'm particularly pleased this report is out so soon, given that I had to miss most of the meeting in order to deal with pressing matters in my own workplace, now thankfully resolved.

Minutes of the January 2011 and previous meetings are now posted on the UNITE web site.