Cable rejects unfair dismissal proposals

The Business Secretary says there is "no evidence" to back up claims in Downing Street report leaked

Vince Cable has rejected the suggestion, put forward by Adrian Beecroft, that unfair dismissal laws should be scrapped. As I blogged yesterday, a report by the venture capitalist commissioned by Downing Street claimed that the laws were hindering efficiency and growth by making it too difficult for employers to sack unproductive members of staff. It went so far as to say that this was the "first" problem facing British enterprise.

Asked about the proposals during a speech on growth at the Policy Exchange think-tank, Cable stressed that it was not an official report. He dismissed the central argument:

No evidence has been advanced that I have seen that it will improve labour market flexibility in general, or have any beneficial effect, but if anyone can produce any, we will look at it.

He also added that unemployment has not shot up due to a lack of flexibility in the labour market, and commended the flexibility of business and workers during the recession:

There was a great deal of flexibility shown by our employees as well as the employers. I go round a lot of our industrial plants. The unions have their formal positions, but it is very clear they are committed to their companies and are very flexible about working practices so the world has changed an awful lot in the last 30 years in a positive way.

According to aides, Cable and the Employment Minister, Ed Davey, are fighting to ensure that plans for growth do not end up with a narrow-focus on restrictive employment laws. However, George Osborne has already announced a range of measures which will make it easier to sack people. In the reforms that have gone through, people are only entitled to claim unfair dismissal when they have been working for at least two years. With further proposals expected on sick pay, it is urgent that this does not become an all-out assault on workers' rights at a time when employment is already so unstable.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

Getty
Show Hide image

Italian PM Matteo Renzi resigns after referendum No vote

Europe's right-wing populists cheered the result. 

Italy's centrist Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was forced to resign late on Sunday after he lost a referendum on constitutional change.

With most ballots counted, 60 per cent of Italians voted No to change, according to the BBC. The turn out was nearly 70 per cent. 

Voters were asked whether they backed a reform to Italy's complex political system, but right-wing populists have interpreted the referendum as a wider poll on the direction of the country.

Before the result, former Ukip leader Nigel Farage tweeted: "Hope the exit polls in Italy are right. This vote looks to me to be more about the Euro than constitutional change."

The leader of France's far-right Front National, Marine Le Pen, tweeted "bravo" to her Eurosceptic "friend" Matteo Salvini, a politician who campaigned for the No vote. She described the referendum result as a "thirst for liberty". 

In his resignation speech, Renzi told reporters he took responsibility for the outcome and added "good luck to us all". 

Since gaining office in 2014, Renzi has been a reformist politician. He introduced same-sex civil unions, made employment laws more flexible and abolished small taxes, and was known by some as "Europe's last Blairite".

However, his proposed constitutional reforms divided opinion even among liberals, because of the way they removed certain checks and balances and handed increased power to the government.

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.