Government has last chance to save jobs

Everyone deserves a second chance, and that includes the Government. Despite
several warnings that defined benefit pension schemes were under threat, the
Government failed to react quickly enough to do anything about it.

So here’s its second chance: the opportunity to work on a masterplan to save
jobs in the UK before it is too late.

With manufacturing in decline, and much of it now being done abroad, the
service industry is the life-blood of our economy. Organisations faced with
increasing employment costs are looking to protect profits by providing
services delivered from abroad.

The payback is high quality around the clock, and customer services at an
extremely competitive cost – the same reasons why so much manufacturing moves
out of the UK. High-profile cases such as Dyson and Prudential are just the tip
of the iceberg and through improved technology, this trend is sure to grow.

Business leaders must compete in a global market and take prudent steps to
improve efficiency and reduce costs through cheaper resources, getting products
to market more quickly and improved customer service.

But, there needs to be a healthy balance, and these same businesses,
together with the Government, unions and workers, have a responsibility to
achieve long-term, sustainable, economic growth. The export of skilled and
unskilled work will only serve to deflate the contribution the UK can make to
the global economy.

These businesses also have a corporate social responsibility to ensure those
working outside the UK are treated fairly and consistently, and enjoy good
conditions and pay.

No-one appears to have noticed that many more jobs in the UK are under
threat. The unions seem to be more concerned with the national minimum wage,
and the Government is either burying its head in the sand or working on a
masterplan that has yet to be revealed.

In trying to achieve sustainable growth, the Government may find this
checklist of ‘do’s and don’ts’ useful:

– Don’t pretend nothing is happening and wait until there is yet another
crisis

– Don’t introduce unworkable legislation that only serves to increase jobs
in the legal profession

– Don’t constantly find ways to increase employment costs

– Don’t tax every employee benefit known to man

– Do take action now to protect jobs in the UK

– Do increase the ability to offer tax-free employee benefits

– Do help business reduce employment costs

– And, importantly, do develop simple, flexible, inclusive employment
legislation.

Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary Tim Yeo should be applauded for asking
businesses to provide real examples of costly, bureaucratic, red tape.

The latest one about fitting seat belts to forklift trucks has to be the
jobsworth regulation of the year – unless of course you know better.

By Denise Keating, Head of people proposition, Marks & Spencer

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