letters

This
week’s letters…

Issue
warrants this high profile

Although
evidence suggests the Government has little interest in HR practitioners’ views
in the application of employment law, the issue is important enough to warrant
the highest possible profile, as indicated by your open letter to DTI Secretary
Stephen Byers (News, 13 February).

Employers
make decisions in which day-to-day realities have to be balanced with the
requirements of law and this we manage to do without too many problems.

In
this situation, however, a knee-jerk reaction to recent events is so evident
that one can have no faith in the outcome. This is doubly so when our
professional bodies are given no opportunity to contribute to the debate.

The
interests of employees in this country are unlikely to be well served by the
Government’s intentions as they stand.

Stuart
Sinfield, head of personnel, Hammonds Furniture

Making
a stand

I
wholeheartedly agree with your letter to Stephen Byers. It is time for HR
managers to make a stand. It is hypocrisy not to consult the professionals when
the very subject is consultation.

Linda
Reed, HR manager, Plastek UK

Outside
influence muddies waters

The
Government’s decision to announce a review of consultation on redundancies may
or may not be a pre-election stunt. It should, however, help to clarify what is
a straightforward problem.

Corus
and Vauxhall excluded the Government and unions from their decision-making in
the run-up to the announcement of closures, for the same reason – prior
consultation with an interested party would muddy the waters.

Unions
would want to try to keep plants open and spread the pain across the whole
company. The Government, faced with the sensitivity of closures in South Wales,
would, for instance, have exerted pressure on Corus, including financial
inducements, to fudge the decision. Both of them would want to delay decisions
and play for time. 

Consultation
over big closures is unattractive to managers because you lose control over the
outcome.

When
firms cut jobs, they want to do it with as little interference as possible.
This is a different issue from how you implement redundancies. They are
generally comfortable about consultation once the key decision is made.

The
crunch issue is about power and influence and can be summed up in the question,
“Should employee stakeholders be able to influence decisions which affect their
jobs or are such decisions the sole prerogative of shareholders?”

Once
you have taken the lid off that issue, it may be difficult to put it back on
again.

Willy
Coupar, director, Involvement and Participation Association

Don’t
panic over relocation issue

Readers
should not be panicked into action by the Tees Valley Development Company
survey of manufacturers, Firms relocate to fill jobs gap (News, 16 January).

Business
sectors differ widely in their need for skills and their strength tends to
dictate the availability rather than the gross number of potential employees in
a location. There are exceptions, such as the growth in call centres, where
factors like local accent have been claimed to be reassuring to callers. It is
no accident that these centres have been located in lower cost areas with an
availability of literate employees, for they are not location dependent for
their day-to-day operation.

Issues
such as proximity to airports are important to multi-national firms,
transportation links vital to companies with goods to distribute and access to
other professionals essential to service providers.

Where
to locate or relocate depends on a range of issues and the message is, don’t
panic, plan. Involve consultancies that have experience of location issues,
network within your industry. The Tees Valley has much to commend it, but so
too has the South East.

Andrew
Finney, HCR

Just
a loophole?

An
eight-week quarantine period is suggested under the DTI regulations on
recruiting temporary staff. So what is to stop all companies recruiting all new
staff on a temporary basis, then making them permanent after eight weeks? It
sounds like a loophole to get companies out of paying a fee. I’m sure the
recruitment companies will love that.

Karen
Millham, HR adviser, AT&T Global Network Services

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