Further to our previous article (http://www.socialist.net/fair-deal-hard-times.htm) the government has been defeated on their own attempt to stop a clear Labour Party manifesto commitment from gaining the force of law. On Friday 13th March a private member’s Bill moved by Lindsey Hoyle gained a second reading after being passed by 85 votes to 17. This is a small but significant victory, won against government skulduggery.
The Bill allows for redundancy pay to be linked to average earnings rather than the Retail price Index. As Hoyle pointed out, in this deflationary age the RPI “could actually go below zero.” He went on to describe the behaviour of government apparatchiks as “quite appalling and quite underhand.” “I know letters have gone out to certain members asking them to come and speak against the Bill in the name of a whip,” he alleged.
Business minister Pat McFadden spoke for two hours against the bill. He is one of those trying to part-privatise the Royal Mail. He whined that the Bill was costly for employers. He is trying to make it easier for employers to get rid of workers – in the middle of a recession. The government’s view seems to be that failed bankers should get giant payoffs, while their victims can be dismissed with a pittance.
After the vote Lindsey Hoyle commented, “The government must act to help those who, through no fault of their own, are made redundant.
"These workers need better support and the government has a responsibility, especially during these tough economic times, to respond.
"It would not only send the message that the government is on their side but also begin to end the scandal that British workers are the cheapest to sack in Europe.
"There has never been a more pressing time to reform statutory redundancy pay."
Activists should make sure your local Labour MP is not one of those trying to curry favour by sabotaging Labour’s commitment to the electorate in 2005. The Bill is not through yet, but this if it is passed it will be a significant gain for working class people. Round one to us. Keep up the pressure!