Trade unions yesterday reacted angrily to demands from the Institute of Directors (IoD) to end national collective bargaining in the NHS and Education sectors, and to put employment tribunals beyond the reach of workers.
Responding to the bosses’ attack, Unite assistant general secretary for public services, Gail Cartmail, said: ‘The IoD’s proposal to scrap collective bargaining across the NHS and in the Education sector is about driving down pay and conditions.
‘Workers in areas of high deprivation will end up being affected the most.
‘The IoD’s proposals would embed inequality into public sector pay in order to please a private sector that wants to compete from the lowest base possible.’
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘Only in the IoD’s Thatcherite fantasy world will measures that reduce training lead to economic growth.
‘Ending national collective bargaining in the NHS would result in increased costs and bureaucracy; entrench regional inequality and destroy robust pay systems that have helped ensure women receive fair and equal pay.
‘The IoD’s real aim is a race to the bottom for pay and conditions in the NHS, and would contribute nothing toward improving productivity or efficiency.
‘Employers shouldn’t see the right to request flexible working as a cost but as sound business sense.’
GMB general secretary Paul Kenny told News Line: ‘The IoD are rightly seen as “extremist fundamentalists” when it comes to social and economic issues.
‘The government should take little time in filing these ideas in the waste bin. What a load of rubbish.’
A Unison spokeswoman said: ‘The Pay Review Body has kept the industrial peace in the NHS for years now.
‘And Agenda for Change was necessary so we had a system that is equal and through national pay bargaining we ensure there is equal pay.
‘Without that, it could open up the NHS to legal challenges over equal pay and end up costing the country a lot more money.’
In a new paper published yesterday, the IoD demands the government ‘boost confidence by making an explicit commitment to reduce ratio of public spending to 35 per cent of GDP by 2020.’
As well as a call to ‘end national collective bargaining in the NHS and Education sector to drive up productivity’, the IoD wants ‘a minimum £500 employee deposit in employment tribunals to deter weak cases so that managers can focus on business growth’.
It complains that ‘too many businesses have to spend too long defending themselves against vexatious claims because of the UK’s failing tribunal system.’
The IoD calls to ‘abolish the right to request flexible working’, ‘abolish the right to request time off for training’, to ‘release green belt land for development to boost the construction sector.’
The IoD also demands ‘a genuine fast-track planning system for key national projects to boost the construction sector and replace ageing infrastructure – local objections will need to be overridden.’