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Employer Hostility At Amazon And Next

Monday, September 23, 2013

Labour Must Tackle Amazon And Next Hostility To Civil Rights Of Staff For Union Help With Problems At Work

To be a trade unionist at Amazon is to be part of an underground movement because to identify themselves would be to put their jobs in jeopardy says GMB

GMB moved a motion at Labour Party Conference in Brighton today ( 23 September) calling on an incoming Labour Government to deal with employer hostility to their employees seeking to exercise their civil rights to call on a trades union to assist them with problems in their workplaces. See notes to editor for text of motion and copy of speech by GMB speaker Maria Ludkin.

Maria Ludkin, GMB National Officer, said in her speech To be a trade unionist at Amazon is to be part of an underground movement. I can’t even stand here today and let you know which parts of the country our members work in, because to do so would be to put their jobs in jeopardy.

In the spring of this year, our members in NEXT stores forced the employer to back down from a unilateral decision to reduce all workers hours to less than 12 and a half hours per week – which they did to avoid paying the employers share of national insurance contributions.

This is a systematic casualisation of labour.

Now every one of those workers feels at risk of losing their jobs because they collectively force the employer to back down and they have no protection from unfair dismissal.

But conference, much of this is not new.

Over decades, working people have been blacklisted or stigmatised for trying to exercise their legitimate rights.

Their lives ruined, simply because they had the gall to demand that they be treated fairly.

This Party has a duty to protect all working people, whether they are in a union or not.”

End

Contact Maria Ludkin 07956 632 657 or Kamaljeet Jundu 07956 237 178 or 07921 289880 or 07974 252 823

Notes to editors

1 Text of the Composite 4 

Employment rights – time for action

Conference deplores the systematic erosion of employment rights since 2010 leading to a rapidly increasing culture of ‘hire and fire’ among employers, the most recent of which (5/9/2013) is to dilute the TUPE regulations which offer protection for employees in the event of a company takeover.

Conference believes that the workplace is becoming more insecure for workers in the UK as a result of this Government’s policies. The Coalition government have launched an assault on the basic rights of working people making it easier to fire, not hire is not a substitute for a credible growth strategy. Conference rejects the accusation that employee rights have been holding back growth in our economy, or that they should be watered down even further, in particular conference expresses concern at the measure included in the Beecroft Report, the Government’s ‘Shares for Rights’ policy; scheme which attempts to bribe workers into giving away their hard fought workplace rights (01/09/2013);

Conference condemns the introduction of punative fees for employment tribunals which will limit access to justice for working people; the increased, two year period to bring forward a case of unfair dismissal; the abolition of legal aid for employment related issues; the abolition of employers civil liability arising out of breaches of Health and safety legislation; compulsory surveys of employers attitude for indirect discrimination cases and employer’s liability for third party harassment.

Conference notes that according to the OECD, the UK already has one of the most lightly regulated labour markets amongst developed countries .

In 2012 conference passed a contemporary motion calling on the Labour Party to establish a commission on employment rights.

Conference calls upon the Labour Party to convene such a body as a matter of urgency.

Conference calls upon the commission to not only redress new anti-trade union policies but to support rights for trade unions to access workplaces in order to promote trade union membership.

Conference applauds the action take by the Welsh Assembly Government to blacklist the blacklisters (11/09/2013) which demonstrates what can be achieved by political will and Labour values - we call upon Labour authorities to follow suit.

Conference believes that preventing exploitation in the workplace must always be a priority for Labour.

As part of this Conference believes that a future Labour government should ensure that the employment rights of the low paid and vulnerable employees are not removed in place of a proper strategy for economic growth; and for fairness in the workplace to be a priority for a Labour government. This includes proper standards in our economy, real protection for agency workers and action against blacklisting.

2 Copy of Maria Ludkin’s speech at Labour party Conference on Monday 23rd September

Chair, conference, Maria Ludkin moving Composite 4 on behalf of GMB

Conference, we live in a country with one of the most flexible Labour markets in Europe.

But at the same time some of the weakest employment rights in the Western world.

But this government are not content with that.

They have mounted a sustained attack on the rights of working people.

From April of this year, if you want to challenge the behaviour of your employer in a tribunal, you have to pay up or shut up.

If you want to challenge your employer for unfairly sacking you - £1,200 is the price you have to pay for access to justice – almost 200 hours working at minimum wage.

And if you have been unfairly dismissed, as long as your boss sacks you before you’ve reached two years employment – you have no rights and you cannot bring a claim.

Shares for rights

Comprehensive destruction of legal aid

And the mass proliferation of zero hour contracts.

That is working Britain under this government.

Fear.

Insecurity.

An inability to challenge wrongdoing because one word out of line today means no pay cheque tomorrow.

But lets look at some examples,

GMB is organising at Amazon.

A 21st century company with sales of billions of pounds each year, on which, as we all know, they don’t like to pay too much tax.

Two thirds of Amazon’s 15,000 person UK workforce is on agency contracts.

Not only are they agency workers, they are agency workers employed by a Dutch agency - even the minimal employment regulation we have here in the UK, regulating employment agencies, does not apply.

Conference, workers at Amazon need a trade union in their workplace more than ever.

But because the workforce have no rights.

Because the employer holds all the cards.

Because unions have no right to access the workplace.

Amazon can say ‘thanks, but no thanks.’

To be a trade unionist at Amazon is to be part of an underground movement. I can’t even stand here today and let you know which parts of the country our members work in, because to do so would be to put their jobs in jeopardy.

In the spring of this year, our members in Next stores forced the employer to back down from a unilateral decision to reduce all workers hours to less than 12 and a half hours per week – which they did to avoid paying the employers share of national insurance contributions.

A systematic casualisation of labour.

Now every one of those workers feels at risk of losing their jobs because they collectively force the employer to back down and they have no protection from unfair dismissal.

But conference, much of this is not new.

Over decades, working people have been blacklisted or stigmatised for trying to exercise their legitimate rights.

Their lives ruined, simply because they had the gall to demand that they be treated fairly.

This Party has a duty to protect all working people, whether they are in a union or not.

This about basic decency.

This is about millions of working people having the protection from a Labour government that they will never get from the Tories or the Liberal Democrats.

Successful economies protect their workers.

Conference, no more prevarication but protection for workers.

After all how much more protection do employers need from working people?

Conference, I move.

 

 

 

 

 

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