TRADE union giant GMB has slammed MP Jo Swinson for proposing legislation which would cut the consultation period for large scale redundancies in half.
Ms Swinson, the Coalition government’s Employment Relations Minister, says this was aimed at helping workers and businesses.
Under proposed plans, the 90 day consultation period employers have to undertake before large-scale redundancies would be cut to 45 days.
But Stephen Baillie, regional organiser for the GMB Scotland, argued that this will increase insecurity at a time when unemployment remains stubbornly high and workers are finding it increasingly difficult to pay off their debts.
He said: “Many workers, particularly those in the public sector, have not seen a pay rise since the Tory/LibDem government was elected two and a half years ago.
“Employment rights in Britain are the weakest in Europe and it is easier to sack somebody in the UK than anywhere else in the EU.
“Ms Swinson has failed to balance the rights of workers and their employees by introducing a minimum statutory consultation period when an employer wants to make less than 20 workers redundant.
“Ms Swinson has brought a change that not even Margaret Thatcher contemplated.
“In short, all those who are interested in fairness and equality at work must condemn her for clearly carrying out a right wing agenda that will only benefit employers and make workers fear for their future.”
The change, which would affect the whole of the UK, could be introduced in April.
Ms Swinson said a consultation process had produced strong support for the changes and added: “Since the Coalition government came to power more than a million new jobs have been created in the private sector and it is good news that unemployment is falling.
“Trade unions have a valuable role to play in employment relations but should not be scaremongering.
“The changes we are making do not increase the likelihood of anyone losing their job. If anything, by making it easier for businesses to respond quickly when they are facing difficulties, more jobs can be safeguarded.
“The redundancy consultation process is usually completed well within the existing 90-day minimum period, and prolonging the uncertainty does not do anyone any favours.
“It’s important to note that the 45 day period is a minimum, not a maximum, so if alternative solutions to save more jobs are being worked on, the consultation can continue for longer.”