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  • Writer's pictureRobert Spicer

Pressure to dilute employment rights

Those of us who offer legal advice in Bristol, and particularly those who profess expertise in employment law, need to consider their response to the reported views of Liam Fox (Independent, February 23, 2012).

Fox, the disgraced former Tory cabinet minister, is reported as saying:

” It is too difficult to hire and fire, and too expensive to take on new employees. It is intellectually unsustainable to believe that workplace rights should remain untouchable while output and employment are clearly cyclical”.

These comments are apparently part of pressure from Conservative MPs to relax employment protection laws as part of a “go for growth” package.

My own reaction to this “pressure” is as follows:

  • I don’t need lecturing on “intellectual sustainability” from a disgraced Tory, and I believe that very few employment lawyers would welcome this assessment of their trade.

  • We are seeing concerted attacks on employment rights in the context of an economic crisis with its roots in the greed of American bankers. It is supremely ironic that apologists for capitalism red in tooth and claw are now turning on those least able to defend themselves, blaming them for the crisis, and seeking to impose American “hire and fire” principles.

  • The cycles of capitalism are historical facts. Fox seeks to undermine workers’ rights, achieved after decades of bitter struggle, in the name of these cycles.

  • Attempts to dilute workers’ rights should be opposed by all employment lawyers worthy of their name.


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