Employment rights remain under continuous attack

It now emerges that Labour did a secret deal with the DWP that the latter would set up an independent inquiry into the use of sanctions against job-seekers in return for Labour supporting emergency legislation – the Jobseekers (Back-to-Work Schemes) Bill which passed all its stages in the Commons last Tuesday – which established the government’s right to re-impose mandatory work activity (forcing someone to work for no pay on pain of otherwise having their benefits withdrawn) which had been struck down in the High Court a few weeks earlier.   If this is true, it is a despicable deal: Labour should never have supported the re-imposition of such legislation whatever the quid pro quo.   Worse still, Labour has already sold the pass in exchange for a nebulous offer which remains entirely within the gift of the government.   It’s the government which will decide the terms of reference, choose the chair and members for the inquiry, decide the timescale, and decide whether or not to accept any of the recommendations, assuming we ever get to that stage.

Just what the government is now getting away with is revealed by a leaked email which shows that jobcentres have been set targets and league tables to enforce a stricter benefit regime on claimants, despite Ministers giving assurances to parliament on Tuesday that no such targets were being set.   The email indicated that staff would be disciplined if they failed to force enough claimants on to a tougher benefit regime.   Specifically it is made clear in this fiat from the DWP that there should be about 25 referrals a week for tougher sanctions when the average referral rate in some job centres at present is in the range of 4-6.   

This is part of a much wider attack on employment rights across the baord.   Despite the proposals for no-fault unfair dismissals from the Wonga boss Adrian Beacroft being initially rejected because of the hug public outcry against them, they are now being quietly re-introduced by the government in the form of measures which make it harder for workers to get work-place justice at employment tribunals, extend the qualifying period to gain employment rights to 2 years, and cut the consultation period on redundancies from 90 to 45 days.   At the same time the Tory Right is demanding the repatriation of powers from the EU in order to end protection for agency and temporary workersas well as the scrapping of the Working Time Directive.   

Just as the government’s austerity measures are not primarily about cutting the deficit but rather about shrinking the public sector and the State, so the attack on employment rights isn’t about a more efficient economy but rather about crushing the trade unions.   If Labour doesn’t now take a stand and fight back hard, it will lose its core support and have no right to call itself a party of social justice.


19 thoughts on “Employment rights remain under continuous attack

  1. Mr Meacher,
    The labour Party has lost its power regarding this, im sure the results at next general election will show this. I do not care for politics but this time I will make a stance…I have severe COPD, ATOS continuosly find me fit for work yet I win on appeal!! My last assessment is so fullof lies youwouldnt actually believe, nurse who assessed me (yes it was a registered nurse)made up medications I was on and missed out some really important ones that sustain my life. People with copd find it hard to breathe never mind work, im in process of being tested for hereditary copd (anti-1-antitrypsin) I do hope I have this as it means I fit criteria for lung transplant, but i would be fit for work then albeit I would be trading some medications for another, but with working lings I knowI can work a decent good paying job. I cannot thank you enough for standing up for disabled people..myself ..ive never been a scrounger in my life I have 28 odd yrs ni and tax contributions according to hmrc..its actually more than that..my oldest son is almost 29 and ive worked all my life, had to go back to work 6wks after giving birth to my son in 1985. Please do not give up your fight I would even stand upand givestatement as to what is happening in modern uk now..we have actualy regressed to the 1940`s when my grandfather fought to get freedom from nazi germany. My own grandmother was raped by nazis, my grandfather took on nazi child so my grandmother wasnt decried…she was pregnant for a second timewhen my granda married her…this country isgoing down the same route as nazis..wipe out the unclean/disabled. Im rambling now so goodnight and I dohope youdo not ignore this email…your paisley counterpart Douglas Alexander has yet to respond to any email or phone call I have sent to his office.

  2. New Labour is just recycled tory, the exception of you Mr Meacher.

    If the Labour party can not stand up for ordinary people who are disabled and sick or the jobless, they are cowards.

    Tory are noting more then nazi’s. When they were last in power they cut everything and what was their excuse back then.

  3. Oh I forgot to add Carman said we don’t pay tax, well I got news for him but pay tax. I pay it on fuel, food, water etc.

    I did work for years too. I even worked for the MOD.

  4. I’ve been feeling for the last couple of years that DLA applicants have had to reach a higher bar to be considered eligible – but proof of this is hard to find.

    Now knowing ministers are lying about DWP policy, how do I find this out – it’s not like I can trust Esther McVey to tell the truth if I ask my MP to ask her a question.

  5. Full respect to you, Mr. Meacher for exposing the Labour party’s secret deal. And on behalf of all the sick and disabled people, you have done some sterling work in the House of Commons. As a supporter of Positive Money, I appreciated your talk with them as well.

  6. About time that the few good men (and women) that still represent traditional Labour values in Parliament, walked away from the Tory sympathisers and appeasers that currently run the Labour Party and formed their own political Party.

    At a time when austerity is being used as an ideological weapon, rather than a solution to the country’s financial problems, we need, more than ever before, an effective opposition to hold the government to account.. and not a compliant Labour Party who are prepared to cover the government’s backside in tacit agreement.

    The TUC should stop all funding of the current Labour Party and divert those funds to a new Party which represents the interests of TUC members, the poor, the elderly and the vulnerable, rather than the 1%.

    There is now a real danger that the Tories could win the next election, due to traditional Labour supporters feeling that they do not have a Party which represents them, to vote for. That would be a tragedy for 99% of the country. We have seen what damage the Tories have inflicted upon the poorest and weakest in our society in less than 3 years. I do not want to imagine what life would be like for most of us if we had to endure another 7 years of policies that are driven by Tory ideological hatred.

    There is still time to launch a credible new Party before the next election, but the clock is ticking and it needs to happen soon.

    It is time to make a stand Mr Meacher. Your country needs you!!

  7. Your voting choice is this:
    The Right Wing Neo-liberal Tory Party
    The Right Wing Neo-liberal Labour Party
    The Right Wing Neo-liberal Lib Dems
    The Right Wing Neo-liberal UKIP

    Thats the choice, and it’s been that way for years now,if Mr Meacher was going to do anything about it he would have done so before now.Let’s not forget which party it was that started the welfare review and introduced ATOS,that introduced the first bedroom tax for people in private lets.How wide the gap between the rich and poor open up under the New Labour? I never heard Mr Meacher say a word against it.

  8. Thank you Michael for everything you are doing to fight for the very civilsation of this country and the handful of other MPs like you suc as John McDonnel.
    Retroactive legislation is more than a step too far and Labour has a lot of ground to make up for allowing this abomination in a supposedly democratic country. It matters not what it was about so much as the fact that it happened at all. We were told that the government could not afford to reimburse the £130 million in illegal benefit sanctions – yet it emerges today, the DWP has handed back a £700 million underspend back to the Treasury. Enough to fund the Bedroom Tax as well.
    The Work Capability Assessment is a gaping wound on the face of any pretence at a democratic, civilised and safe society. I hope you have the strength to keep up the pressure. Hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people living in daily fear of their own government is an outrage and denies everything the UK preaches to the rest of the world. Get rid of Liam Byrne. The disabled will not accept him or Purnell or Frank Field. Labour was set to win an outright election victory. That is now very much in peril. Ed needs to man up or move out in favour of someone will balls enough to speak out against vile propaganda and the running of this country into a slave labour camp to benefit the few.

  9. I’m with Budgie. My union, the UCU, isn’t affiliated to Labour, but its leading activists were so incensed at Yvette Cooper’s run to the right on immigration two weeks ago that they’re now calling for a campaign to get other unions to disaffiliate! Here in Swansea Labour are resorting to bully-boy tactics to silence any criticism in the run up to a community-led bedroom tax protest.

    Labour are falling apart. This vote shows the Coalition has not just two parties in it but three.

  10. Have to agree totally with the other correspondents here. I was on the New Deal program under New Labour. It both destroyed self confidence and the ability to cope and sort out the problems of being unemployed.

    Now we are facing even more draconian measures, the future for the unemployed is very bleak.

    We need old Labour not Tory incognito. Like I said at the start of this. I was on those programs and can tell you for certain it cost you the vote of the people put on it. We were not as stupid as the media makes out, we knew exactly what was going on and who was responsible. It was a favourite subject of conversation. A bit like gallows humour on death-row.

    If you take away all the options for people they will do desperate things. If we have no alternative but totalitarianism from the main party’s then expect hell on the streets. The damage done is tangible and heartfelt by those affected by this ongoing nightmare. A stop must be put to this madness. The only solution is cutting out the diseased flesh that is the rump of New Labour. Only then will good honest people have something to vote for.

  11. well didn’t think that they would vote any differently than whot they did eds still playing with bringing blair back into labour ,but then he,s know we wont stand for it .but then labours a little tory party in labour ties yep even mm does his bit is he realy a labour or tory supporter just doing his bit for the little tory labour party showing there are some who do care or is it just a blind farce by labour just to get us to vote for them ,are they complete idiots up in the great house there will be fall out for this and labour not going to like it sorry tory .but then when the 99percent do wake up will they push this lot out ,has we didn’t hold the banks up and they still getting massive bonuses while we pay for it yes the tide will turn and open the eyes of the rest will the little tory labour party take note nah they to stuck up for that jeff3

  12. Michael,

    Sadly, whilst people like you remain in the Labour Party it gives people the false hope that things could change.

    Look at Tony Benn – he spent his life in a failed attempt to move the Labour Party to the left. During his time in Parliament, it slowly moved to the right.

    You are tolerated by the party because you keep on-board the radicals; those who would otherwise join the Greens or maybe a short lived left splinter group.

    If you want to make a difference to the Labour Party – you need to find another home.


  13. Some years ago, I heard that old Tony there, wanted to be a Tory rep…allegedly. Now, whatever the truth of that story is, the simple truth remains, he turned labour from a party for social inclusion and justice, to a party for the 1%.

    Was that the real sticky point with Gordon Brown? That GB brought in tax credits, lifting hundreds of thousands of little people out of poverty. Then along comes Liam Byrne and Alistair Darling to knock them back into the gutter. Cheers, guys.

    In approximately 18 months time we, the electorate, will vote. It is up to REAL labour to energize themselves to make policy for us, policy that doesn’t see hospitals have two masters, NHS and PFI, but treat patients as humanbeings NOT as targets. Policy that stops messing around with the education of our children, that gives them a solid foundation…even with classics thrown in.

    Well, Mr Meacher, you know as well as us what’s needed….and it isn’t Liam Byrne, the labour party’s IDS.

  14. Well Done Mr Meacher.I just hope that all the other PMs will come to understand what is what is going on and rebel.Before what my farther fought for lies shattered.

  15. Please, as one of the few MPs remaining with a conscience, can you put pressure on Labour to become a Real Opposition who speaks out for those who have no other voice? Please?

  16. Again many thanks Mr.Meacher for your wonderful articles, albeit some are doom and gloom they do provide a glimmer of hope for the thousands awaiting their fate and for those whose fate has already been decided under IDS regime.

    I read another of David Camerons spins in the newspaper today. He claims as a result of their reforms 800,000 incapacity claimants have withdrawn claims rather than face an ATOS medical examination.

    I have no understanding as to where he gets his figures from. However if that is the case he failed to say that 800,000 already knew the result of their examination before having it. So what is the point in wasting one’s time,i.e you can’t win.

    Do you think these figures accurate or is it the case of another direct lie?

    Sadly we are learning to live with the habitual lies from this Tory government.

    Having limited understanding of politics I wonder if you could advise your many readers of what it will take to get IDS and his associates to attend a debate with an appropriate delegation such as spartacus and representatives from the medical council.

    Can these Ministers ignore all reasonable requests for such a debate on an issue which is having such a dramatic affect on individuals lives?

    Like other readers could not believe that Ed and his party (inc Liam Byrne) supported IDS on what cna only be termed illegal in reversing a court ruling.

    Again so grateful there are individuals as your good self who can rationalise and see sense and through what this party is doing to UK citizens.

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