A controversial new legislation has been drafted at the UK parliament, under which workers could be given tax-free shares in their respective company in exchange for their rights, local media reported.
The draft, proposed by a Conservative lawmaker and unveiled by the Chancellor, George Osborne, was cursed by the outraged union leaders who considered it as a new attack by employers on the workers’ hard-earned rights. If passed at the parliament, the draft may become mandatory for new staffers.
According to the draft, employees could receive between $3,000 and $80,000 of tax-free shares in their company as early as April 2013 in exchange for forfeiting their rights including flexible working hours, redundancy pay and unjust dismissal.
Workers’ unions deplored the draft and dismissed it as direct attack on workers’ rights. They argued that the proposal was closely similar to the Beecroft proposal, which gave companies the right to ‘fire at will’ without fear of a lawsuit for unjust dismissal. The Beecroft proposal was blocked by the Liberal Democrats.
“We deplore any attack on maternity provision or protection against unfair dismissal,” General-Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) Brendan Barber told the Independent.
Head of the Unite union Len McCluskey said that Osborne was trying to bring about a return to the bygone Victorian era.
“Osborne has shown just how shameful and despicable he and his government are in trying to strip workers of their rights”, said McCluskey.
Britain’s current economic crisis and the government’s unpopular austerity policies have directly influenced laborers, particularly the young. The workers may prefer to maintain their job, but give up some of their rights as the country is facing an economic nightmare with more than 2.6 million people unemployed.
The new offer will also have a negative impact on prospective mothers, as women on maternity leave would be required to give 16 weeks’ notice before returning to work, rather than the eight weeks currently required.
Meanwhile, Gareth Thomas MP called the plan a con game, since receiving shares in a company does not guarantee profit.
“Why give up rights as an employee for tax relief on a few shares with no more chance to have a voice in key decisions?” he said.
Conservative MPs are planning to rush the new legislation through parliament as soon as possible.