A Tramp’s Take on Workers’ Rights

well_chuffed, Going Postal
Nut says
#juniordoctorsstrike Corbyn and McDonnell Join the March, Gary KnightPublic Domain Dedication CC0 1.0

One of the tramp’s perpetual complaints, of which there are many not a few, is that the Tories will do away with his beloved Workers’ Rights as soon as we step away from the EU. The gist of his argument is that the Rights of our workers were bestowed by a benevolent EU and 8 year old boys were still climbing chimneys until 1973.

This is complete bollocks from start to finish, like most of the fearless class warrior’s fiercely held delusions. One of my abiding memories when I started work in the sixties was the prominently displayed summary of the “Shops, Offices and Railway Premises Act 1963”. Amongst other things this dictated how many toilets must be provided for a given number of workers and workplace temperature requirements. A whole host of protective regulations existed before the EEC/EU was even dreamt of. Since the EU started dishing out its infamous Directives some of this legislation has been superseded or merged into newer laws and in many cases our laws exceed the requirements of the EU Directives.

One of the Labour Party’s most precious instruments is the National Minimum Wage Act passed in 1998. This is held to be the most empowering legislation ever passed anywhere, anytime. In reality, along with mass immigration, it is responsible for the workers being paid as little as possible by very grateful and greedy employers. Workers in the private sector are often paid the risible minimum or sometimes the laughable “living” wage. Slowly but surely, the wages have sunk in real terms. Let us rejoice that the fat cats, and the MPs, still earn fabulous amounts in comparison and the public sector employees are generally more than keeping their heads above water.

Having looked at the Rights workers have and having tried to find the relevant piece of legislation I have come up with a list of 8 pieces of legislation that seem to cover most of what could be referred to as Workers’ Rights. Each of these Acts expands or replaces some previous legislation, some of it dating back to before the 1st World War.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of Workers’ Rights in no particular order, I defy any Party to stand for election with the aspiration, they would say promise, to water them down.

  • being paid the National Minimum Wage
  • Within two months of starting the job you should receive a written statement clearly stating the basic details and the main terms and conditions of your employment. These would include your job title, expected hours of work, monthly wages, paid holiday and sick leave entitlement, details of any applicable pension scheme, minimum notice period, disciplinary process and procedure for reporting a grievance.
  • You must receive an itemised payslip that provides a detailed breakdown of your pay and any deductions.
  • protection against unlawful deductions from wages
  • the statutory minimum level of paid holiday
  • the statutory minimum length of rest breaks This includes getting a daily rest period of at least 20 minutes if the working day exceeds 6 hours and at least one full day off during every 7 days.
  • Health and safety laws also state that employers have a statutory duty to take care of the health and safety of their employees by providing a clean environment to work in, first aid equipment, protective clothing, drinking water and washing facilities and ensuring all machinery is safe.
  • If you have been working for an employer for at least one month, they must give you notice if you are to be dismissed.
  • If you receive a dismissal notice while you are pregnant or on maternity leave, the notice must be accompanied by a written explanation of the reason.
  • If you need to attend a disciplinary hearing, you are entitled to have a trade union representative accompany you to the hearing if necessary.
  • to not work more than 48 hours on average per week or to opt out of this right if they choose
  • protection against unlawful discrimination, This applies to all forms of discrimination including age, disability, sex, race, sexual orientation and religious beliefs.protection for whistleblowing – reporting wrongdoing in the workplace
  • to not be treated less favourably if they work part-time
  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • Statutory Maternity Pay
  • Statutory Paternity Pay
  • Statutory Adoption Pay
  • Shared Parental Pay
  • An employer may put you on short-time working or lay you off if there is a downturn in the industry and they do not have any work for you. You will not get paid if you are laid off but will receive part of your regular income if you are on short-time working. In both instances, you may be entitled to a payment called ‘guarantee payment’ from your employer.

Are All Workers Entitled To Statutory Employment Rights ?

  • No, not all workers are entitled to statutory rights. Only employees who work with a company or individual employer are entitled to statutory employment rights. If you are a freelancer, self-employed or you work for an agency, you are a worker and not an employee and as such you would not be entitled to the same rights as an employee.
  • However, whether you work as a freelancer or for an agency, you still have the right to receive the minimum wage and the right not to be discriminated against.
  • Others who may not receive full statutory employment rights include trainee doctors, merchant seamen, police officers and armed forces employees.

Now the list of legislation that grants most of those rights and whether it originates from the EU

Year Act EU Directive
1960 Payment of Wages Act No
1974 Health and Safety at Work No
1986 Social Security Act No
1989 Employment Act No
1998 National Minimum Wage Act No
1998 Working Time Regulations Yes
1998 Public Interest Disclosure Act No
2010 Equality Act Partially

The Equality Act was a coming together of various pieces of legislation into one Act. For example the Race Relations Act dated from 1975. The original EU Directive started in 2003/2004 with various changes over the years.

As just one example some laws regarding Health and Safety, along with various later modifications, were already in place before the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, these were

  • Shops Offices and Railway Premises Act 1962
  • Factories Act 1961, 1952 and 1937

I think all of the legislation listed here has either superseded or merged in previous legislation so although some laws may have originated from EU Directives, much was already in place before the EU started meddling. It is fairly safe to say that very few of these Rights were instigated by the EU, apart from the 48 hour week limit we always had something similar in place.

Many of you will recall the kerfuffle over the Working Time Directive and its maximum shift lengths and 48 hour week. Even so this Act replaced the 1996 Employment Rights Act so we already had laws in this area. A great British compromise was reached whereby a worker could sign away these rights and exceed these hours if willing. When I did my polling station shift I had to sign away these rights for that day or I could not have legally worked from 7am to 10pm.

Trying to find the Act that relates to any particular Right is a minefield. Most of these laws have earlier versions or amalgamate several earlier Acts. It is a brave man who isn’t a lawyer who can put his finger on an exact clause.

To get to the point of this article it is my contention that the tramp is a lying devious bar steward. Of course he is not alone in that respect in the Palace of Westminster but his perpetual whining about losing Workers’ Rights and the Tories are going to legislate them all away is total balderdash. Half of the laws listed here were introduced by the Tories and those introduced by Labour have not been repealed and still stand as the law of the land.

When we leave the EU, the Great Repeal Act or whatever it is called will copy over all existing legislation which can then be amended by Parliament as and when it wishes. If the tramp’s shower were as popular as he claims they are, Labour will form the next government and he will then be in a position to keep, modify or enhance his beloved Worker’s Rights. If memory serves me well his major obsession in that direction is repealing the Tory Trade Union legislation so we can return to the bad old days of industrial unrest in the sixties and seventies. I wonder which part of that he likes best, perhaps the unburied bodies or could it be the mounds of rubbish piling up in the streets.

There have been many insinuations over the years that the provisions in our employment legislation are superior to the requirements in the EU Directives. I have no reason to doubt this and it may be that many other EU countries do similar. I think the Working Hours legislation was the only EU Directive where we did not already have our own laws though some jobs have had hours restrictions for a long time, lorry drivers spring to mind though tachographs were introduced by the EU. The Fatherland had such things since 1952. Oddly enough, amongst others, mobile libraries are exempt from these laws as are steam vehicles, a tangled web indeed.

It would be surprising if I had found all laws relating to our Rights as wage slaves but I think I have found most of them. If any of you puffins wish to point out omissions and the undoubted errors, please put the details in the comments where nobody will read them.

In conclusion the tramp is being very economical with the vérité when he insists that leaving the EU will reduce Worker’s Rights. It is the usual socialist foghorn, soundbite politics where they never give any details just try to scare people. Well I ain’t scared, we only got two weeks holiday when I started work, look at us now with our five weeks of leisure. In fact seeing as the horny handed allotment tiller has spent his entire life wanting to leave the European Project, he surely only uses the Workers Rights fallacy as a kind of “don’t give a monkey’s about the rest” comfort blanket. The tramp’s biggest problem in all this is that he is just plain thick, we need Andrew Neil to give him a going over when it comes to this legislation, Jezza would flounder and then drown very quickly.

© well_chuffed 2019

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