Brown tries to use EU to defeat agency workers rights

In an effort to avoid giving agency workers better legal rights, New Labour is trying to set up a forum of unions and bosses. Will the labour bureaucracy sell out agency workers?

Now obviously, I am opposed to the EU project – it is antithetical to workers’ rights and measures such as this have come from the labour movement, not the Eurocrats. Even if the UK was not a member, there would still be demands for better rights for agency workers and New Labour would be under pressure from unions and backbench MPs.

Brown like his predecessor Blair loves to talk of corresponding rights and responsibilities. Could anyone tell me why, if you have responsibilities from day one, you should not also have rights?

The FT reports:

The government is holding secret talks with the European Commission over planned EU legislation on agency staff after blocking the proposal, along with a handful of other countries, for four years.

The draft law would give temps full pay and conditions after six weeks in the job. Britain has argued that the legislation could impose costs on employers and make work less flexible. Business groups say temps should receive full pay after a minimum of six months.

But the UK has been left increasingly isolated in its opposition to the proposal, and when EU employment ministers met in December it became clear that most member states wanted to push for the measure to be approved.

A meeting with the European Commission is set to take place this week. The government is seeking confirmation that a forum the prime minister hopes to set up with unions and employers would allow the UK to “apply the directive flexibly,” according to an official

A derogation in the proposed EU law means its provisions do not have to be applied to every agency worker, where there are collective bargaining mechanisms in place to negotiate on the worker’s behalf.

The UK does not have the direct equivalent of such mechanisms. But ministers believe the forum would fulfil this function effectively.

Any agreement with Brussels could pave the way for a union-wide deal over the divisive legislation.

Gordon Brown has yet to get business or union agreement to his proposed forum. His government envisages the body would work along the lines of its low pay commission, agreeing the period of employment after which temporary and agency workers would be entitled to the same pay and treatment as permanent staff.

The Trades Union Congress said it was waiting for the government to clarify the proposed terms of reference of the new body.

Union scepticism will be fuelled by the news that the UK is trying to get reassurance from the European Commission that the body would mitigate the cost to Britain of the European measure. [Emphasis added.]

Hat tip: Ian

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Serious Fraud Office – serious law-breakers!

Today’s News Line editorial:

The needs of profit making are a higher morality than bourgeois law
THE High Court yesterday ruled that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) acted unlawfully by dropping a corruption inquiry into a £43bn Saudi arms deal.

Since the Office had been directed by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair, and his Attorney General Lord Goldsmith in this matter, the implication of the judgement is that the Prime Minister and the Attorney General both broke the law and should pay the price for doing so.

Goldsmith and Blair both maintained that the continuation of the inquiry into allegations that BAE Systems paid hundreds of millions of pounds in bribes to members of the Saudi Royal family to secure a major military contract, would have caused ‘serious damage’ to UK-Saudi relations and, in turn, threatened national security, and thousands of British jobs.

It is alleged that the Saudi monarchy threatened the British government with the cancellation of the contract should the inquiry go ahead, and that they might look the other way if they came across an Al-Qaeda plot to attack British interests.

Yesterday, the Judiciary allowed the challenge made by Corner House and the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) with Lord Justice Moses, saying that the director of the SFO had failed to assure them that everything had been done to meet the rule of law and that ‘No one, whether within this country or outside, is entitled to interfere with the course of our justice.’

He added: ‘It is the failure of government and the defendant to bear that essential principle in mind that justifies the intervention of this court.’

For its part, the Serious Fraud Office said it had no further comment, but was ‘carefully’ considering the implications of the judgement.

Enthusiasts of the bourgeois law will now be expecting the Serious Fraud Office to reopen the inquiry, while it passes a file to the Metropolitan Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate the issue and see whether the Crown should take action against Blair and Goldsmith.

Indeed there is a case for alleging that the very religious Blair and his supporter Goldsmith are repeat offenders, since both were involved in the declaration of an illegal war against Iraq, after Goldsmith finally gave the legal advice that an aggressive war on Iraq was legal, despite the fact that it was not supported by the United Nations.

However it will not be very long before we obtain more proof that, as the cases of the war on Iraq and the dropping of the serious fraud inquiry into the BAE deal prove , the needs of the bourgeoisie to make super profits, and allegedly to give bribes to be able to do so, make for a higher and more vital form of bourgeois morality than the strictures of bourgeois law.

There is not the slightest chance of the Serious Fraud Office reopening the inquiry into the alleged bribes given to the Saudi Royal Family.

Neither is there the slightest chance of Blair and Goldsmith being arraigned as repeat offenders as far as the bourgeois law on fraud and war are concerned.

The more likely alternative is that the House of Commons will pass legislation that will retrospectively clear those that are being accused of law breaking.

As far as the bourgeoisie is concerned – while bourgeois law can hold sway as a source of debate, and as some sort of surface decoration for profit hungry capitalism – without bribery and corruption of all kinds, world trade and the bourgeois order would grind to a halt.

The battle cry will go up to the learned judges, ‘Get Real,’ while the more religious participants in the drama will go to their parish priests for confession and then absolution, before carrying on with the work in hand.

Capitalism is a very dirty business, and it will take more than a few judgements to clear the muck out of its Augean stables. In fact, this task requires a socialist revolution.