Unite, the country’s biggest union, has reacted angrily as the government announced plans to reduce the current minimum period for large scale redundancies from 90 days to just 45 days.
The statement from employment relations minister, Jo Swinson, sets out a number of measures that would significantly reduce protections afforded to millions of UK workers.
Unite has argued that the current consultation period provides a vital opportunity for employers, employees and trade unions to attempt to find a resolution to proposed redundancies, helping keep jobs in the country.
The UK already has some of the weakest employment protections for workers in the European Union and these changes would represent a significant further watering down of those rights.
The union has suggested that these measures will have no positive impact on job creation and hit already fragile consumer confidence, as the country faces a possible triple-dip recession.
Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, said: "This is one of the most regressive, anti-job measures ever taken by any government. To be taken in the depths of this financial crisis, when the economy faces a triple-dip recession is utter madness.
"Scything back the consultation period for larger scale redundancies, from 90 days to 45 days, is akin to hanging a massive 'exit here' notice across Britain's businesses.
"Unite seriously questions what so-called evidence the government has to support this proposal. Had the government taken its own consultation exercise seriously and listened to the trade unions, it would have seen that evidence clearly shows the 90 day period is vital. It allows us to work with willing businesses to find solutions to problems, saving jobs and businesses.
"Once again this government has proved itself to be totally clueless when it comes to stewarding our economy. If it has any vision whatsoever for this nation it is a nightmare one, where companies can breeze in and out of our communities, showing no social responsibility or loyalty during tough times.
"Sneaking this out at the end of the year just underlines how underhand this government is. We will oppose this measure and every other attempt to attack workers' rights, which are already some of the most lax in Europe. This is nothing more than a desperate effort to pander to big business, paid for by the sacrifice of hard won rights of working people. Vince Cable should hang his head in shame."
For further information contact James Bevan on 07711 347 645
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.