NuLieBore. New Labour. Geddit?
Ahem. I’ll start again…
How low can you go?
Jacqui Smith gives us this act of desperation:
I now want the Action Squad to co-ordinate a new drive against the hard core of ‘hard nut’ cases.
That car of theirs – is the tax up to date? Is it insured? Let’s find out
And have they a TV licence for their plasma screen? As the advert says, “it’s all on the database.”
As for their council tax, it shouldn’t be difficult to see if that’s been paid
And what about benefit fraud? Can we run a check?
The police, she says, should harass young people who persistently offend. In tabloid-speak this is “get tough on young thugs” – but some of those young people may not have actually been convicted of anything.
Is it a productive use of police time to have officers partaking in… anti-social behaviour? And might such intrusive policing be met with a violent response, endangering police officers and members of the public?
It used to be that politicians would call for more police on the beat, which is fair enough, but Smith’s speech was spun almost as a call for police brutality – which tells you how bad things are for New Labour…
The blurring of boundaries between suspect and convict may continue in the workplace if the bosses (and the New Labour) are able to get away with this:
A government-backed database of ‘workplace offenders’ will be launched later this month to combat the annual loss of half a billion pounds through staff theft and fraud.
The National Staff Dismissal Register will allow employers to share and access details of staff that have been dismissed or have left employment while under investigation for dishonest actions.
Such actions include theft, fraud, forgery, falsification of documents and causing damage to company property. An employee need not have a criminal conviction for their details to be added to the database.
Ah, my emphasis there – and emphasis that’s needed. It continues…
The register is an initiative by Action Against Business Crime, a partnership between the Home Office and the British Retail Consortium, and is allowable under the regulation of the Data Protection Act 1998.
Funny how that Data Protection Act always fails to protect your data…
Big names to have thrown their weight behind the register, include retailers Harrods, HMV, Mothercare and Selfridges and outsourcing agency Reed Managed Services.
Yes, it’s a blacklist ladies and gentlemen. As Ian explains,
A shop worker can be dismissed if the employer reasonably believes that the employee has had his/her hand in the till or had pinched some stock. The give away in the article is that no criminal conviction is needed to be on the register just the fact that the employee has been dismissed.
Just think of it. A Trade Union/ Health and Safety rep can be alone in a warehouse. He/she is later invited to a meeting to account for missing stock. This quickly moves to a disciplinary and on the basis of reasonable belief the worker is sacked. The balance of proof needed is very low. The explanation the worker gives is inadequate. The TU activist is out the door and even though there is no criminal conviction the worker ends up on this register.
By the way, JimJay has an excellent post on this subject which links to the National Staff Dismissal Register. As he rightly says,
Employers can take against employees for a whole number of reasons. Whilst some are legitimate there are a whole raft of others that are not. An employer may dislike someone because they refuse to work unpaid overtime, for being an effective trade unionist or because they are gay. An employer may resent someone who objects to being bullied and knows their legal rights, who holds different political views to them or who is simply better at their job than they are. […]
If I’m caught stealing a tenner from the till I don’t deserve to keep my job, but I don’t deserve to be made permanently unemployed at the tax payers expense either. It isn’t helpful and there are few non-criminal charges where this would be anything like a fair and reasonable response.
All this scheme does is to give further leverage to employers to make unreasonable demands of their workforce. One ex-employer’s unsubstantiated whim should never be enough to blacken someone’s name or ruin their livelihood, yet this is precisely the aim of this site. This system isn’t simply open to abuse – it’s designed for it.
Some good news to finish. Karen’s struggle has reached parliament, where it seems there are Labour MPs supporting working people in their struggles:
More than 200 health workers, trade unionists, service users and MPs packed into a room in the House of Commons yesterday to show their support for Karen Reissmann, the Manchester psychiatric nurse and leading union member who was sacked for speaking out against cuts and privatisation.
The meeting, which was organised by Karen’s Unison union and chaired by her MP, Tony Lloyd, aimed to raise support for Early Day Motion 443, which calls for Karen’s reinstatement.
Addressing the meeting, Tony Lloyd praised Karen’s two decades of service to the NHS and said that trade unionists must be given greater protection. He said, “There is a real issue of principle at stake here. Health workers have a right and a duty to tell the truth about what happens at work.
“I have a long experience with the Manchester Mental Health Trust. If services there are not being provided properly, we need to know so that we can get improvements made.”
During the meeting health workers from Manchester and from across Britain spoke of their fear that Karen’s sacking is an attempt by management to silence trade unionists and opponents of cuts to services. Many of those attending were Karen’s workmates who had taken several weeks of strike action in an effort to see their colleague returned to work.
Parliamentarians – including Gerald Kaufman, Kelvin Hopkins, Katy Clark, John Leech, and Jeremy Corbyn – heard workers and carers describe the way mental health services are at breaking point in many parts of the country.
Unison vice-president Gerry Gallagher spoke of the tremendous wave of solidarity that the Manchester strikers had received and pledged the continuing support of the union, both for the continuing campaign and for Karen’s employment tribunal that is due to commence in the autumn.
“We must maintain the profile and the pressure in support of Karen,” he said.
From the floor John Mcloughlin from Tower Hamlets Unison talked about the way that emloyment law is stacked against trade unionists. To loud applause he pointed out that even when employment tribunals find against the employers, they cannot force them to reinstate staff who have been wrongly sacked.
Closing the speeches Karen Reissmann said, “This is not a dictatorship. This is Britain under a Labour government in 2008.
“Obviously I want my job back. But I also want protection for all trade unionists.”
The meeting urged everyone to contact their local MPs to ask them to sign the Early Day Motion, and continue to raise Karen’s case wherever possible.