Is British manufacturing staring into the abyss? Amicus, one of the
country’s biggest unions, thinks it is, and believes the answer lies in the
Government appointing a minister to force employers to invest in the sector.
The union seems to be picking a fight with the wrong opponent. Employers
should pick up the mantle, not the Government.
The DTI and others have been more than proactive in pressurising
manufacturers to take the longer-term view and invest in people issues to boost
productivity and competitiveness.
There have been countless attempts to support, cajole and demand that skills
shortages are addressed and that consultation with workers is improved. The
DTI’s productivity campaign is littered with recommendations to stimulate
innovation through a more dynamic approach to research and development.
We have initiative overload from the Government. Amicus should be working
with specific employers to provide practical help in overcoming their
difficulties, not pushing for yet more Government red tape. At least four
million manufacturing jobs depend on it.
Pensions may not light up your day, but the prospect is that they are
serious news for HR and should not be sidelined.
This week’s front page lead story reminds us that the clock is ticking on
Government plans to outlaw age discrimination, and there are dire warnings
about the likely impact on pensions and other workers’ rights. Many now fear
that HR will be forced to overhaul policies on retirement, redundancy, unfair
dismissal and recruitment, thereby increasing the cost of administration and
threatening mass closure of pension schemes.
There are far too many mixed messages about pensions, with the Department of
Work and Pensions contradicting statements about older workers made by the DTI.
The result is a mess, with confusion all round and the inevitable catastrophic
consequences looming large. There must be more collaboration centrally about
the broad goals around pensions reform before employers can properly engage
with the process and predict the likely outcomes.
Take a hard look at the current directive, ‘Age Matters’, and air your views
without delay. This is another important opportunity for HR to influence the
By Jane King, editor