British workers are among the least protected in Europe and should be given more employment rights, according to claims by trade union Amicus.
Despite widespread complaints of increasing red tape by employers, Amicus has called for greater legal rights for workers to prevent further redundancies, particularly by foreign-owned companies.
According to general secretary Derek Simpson, stronger redundancy protection for employees in Europe is making UK staff more vulnerable when multinational firms cut jobs.
“In an increasingly global economy, multinationals will always choose to make job cuts where it is cheaper, quicker and more politically expedient to sack,” he said. “Unless we have employment protection parity with other European countries, UK workers will continue to be the soft touch when it comes to slashing jobs.”
Simpson called for further legislation, fairer strike rules and the right to represent workers in small firms. He dismissed the argument by employers’ bodies about maintaining a flexible workforce, citing recent redun-dancies at Marconi and Alstom.
“The flexible workforce makes no sense – it just enables quality jobs to be easily disposed of, resulting in the economy being de-skilled,” Simpson argued.
He said the UK had the highest levels of redundancies in the EU and had also endured the greatest num-ber of restructuring cases in the last quarter of 2004.
Meanwhile, a separate report by the British Chambers of Commerce found that the number of business regulations increased by 46% in the first half of 2004, with the majority of the new rules coming from Britain, not Europe.