Delivering union expectations on new employment rights would be disastrous for the UK‘s economy, the CBI’s director-general said today.
Speaking ahead of trade and industry’s secretary Alan Johnson’s speech to the TUC Congress, Digby Jones said the UK’s economic success could be undermined if the government implements the kind of employment legislation that unions believe they have been promised under the terms of the Warwick agreement.
The agreement includes commitments to introduce new laws or consult in areas including:
Supporting the proposed EU directive on agency temps
Extending the scope of collective bargaining
Increasing statutory redundancy pay
Creating a new employment rights agency similar to the Health & Safety Executive.
Union leaders have pressed the government to keep to its promises, but Jones warned Johnson that they are asking for too much.
“Doubling statutory redundancy pay, for example, would hit small firms hard. And introducing equal conditions for temporary workers after only six weeks would undermine the flexible labour market that has helped the UK economy to out-perform its European neighbours,” he said.
“Since 1997 companies have absorbed a series of new employment rights in a constructive and forward-looking way. But the government’s commitment to better regulation and a competitive economy will not sit well with pledges at the TUC to deliver ever more employment rights.”
Turning to public sector pensions, also expected to feature in Johnson’s speech, Jones said: “The private sector is going through the pain of making its pensions provision fit for the changed circumstances of the 21st Century, with people living ever longer and healthier lives.
“The government must stand up to the unions and deliver equivalent structural reform to public sector pensions. Taxpayers – businesses and individuals alike – expect no less.”