You can call this government many things; Idiotic, incompetent, miserly.
I often call them much worse, but for now will stick with 'diametrically opposed to the working rights of You and l'
The coalition, via its erstwhile Business Secretary Vince Cable has, for reasons aimed undoubtedly at 'flying below the radar' attempted to sneak in some last minute amendments to the Enterprise Bill.
The changes that Dr Cable silently bolted onto this 'bosses charter' centre on Section 47 of the bill. What they mean is that it is going to become massively harder, more complex, and significantly more expensive for you, l, and the majority of other workers to successfully sue an employer for compensation in the event of industrial injury.
lf the new proposals ascend to the statute, any worker taking legal action against an employer will have to prove to the court that there was direct negligence on the part of their bosses. Being in breach of the law will no longer be sufficient on it's own for a company or employer to be compelled to compensate an injured member of staff.
Of course, the propaganda machine down at Coalition HQ will dress this in the jaded horse blanket that is the Governmental efficiency drive, and the massed media will enthusiastically spread the lie in an attempt to smear unions, activists and those who see beyond the distorted headlines and slanted press releases as 'vested interests' trying to fight reform, but when the truth is told, the Coalition have form on this.
Since coming into office, the government have hungrily torn at the already restrictive worker protections on the statute book.
In just over two years, they have;
* PRICED ordinary workers out of the tribunal system by raising fees drastically.
* SLASHED the maximum amount of compensation workers can receive if dismissed unfairly.
* EXEMPTED certain occupations from eligibility for applying to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) in the event of certain industrial incidents, injuries and trauma.
* DOUBLED the qualifying period for applications to HM Courts & Tribunal Service following unfair or constructive dismissal.
This list is depressing, but is not exhaustive, and is of course, set against a cancerous backdrop of Dickensian benefit bashing and criminal destruction of the NHS.
These reforms have been bulldozed through on a tidal wave of deficit reduction. The Tories, gutlessly enabled by the LiberaI Democrats, spuriously claim that the changes I have outlined are essential for economic recovery.
Not ONE SINGLE PENNY of the deficit has been paid back by preventing vulnerable employees from holding aggressive and sub-standard bosses to account.
Not ONE SINGLE JOB has been created by denying justice to ordinary Working men and women.
These changes to Health & Safety at Work law are as historic as they are unfair.
The new law would remove the automatic redress provided by law that has been in force since the reign of Queen Victoria. All this will do is send the message to unscrupulous bosses that it is ok to jettison the Health & Safety of their employees because the government have jettisoned the scant laws that might just have made some think twice.
The fact is that people are DYING at work under the current regime!
* Mark Wright was killed after being engulfed in flames at Deeside Scrap Metal Yard near Chester in 2005.
He was told to crush a pile of aerosol cans that hadn't been emptied by cleaning firm Jeyes. They were fined £330,000. His employers were fined £100,000.
The manager at the site, Rob Roberts, Was fined just £10,000, despite stating he didn't bother with risk assessments because most of his staff were illiterate anyway!
Mark's mother Dorothy, is a founder member of FACK (Families Against Corporate Killing) They campaign for harsher penalties in cases like Mark's and greater protections for workers.
* Shaughan Walsh, Tony Laughton and David Jowett were crushed to death whilst on a coffee break when a retaining wall collapsed due to high winds, causing the derelict warehouse they were working on to cave in on itself in Hull in April 2000.
The CPS decided that there was 'insufficient' evidence to prosecute the owner of the building, Murli Thandani, despite a number of the staff on the site testifying that he failed to keep proper records, and sent labourers onto the 3rd & 4th floors despite being warned by Building inspectors that the upper floors of the building were unsafe.
One worker told investigators how the building shook whenever large vehicles passed, and how Thandani responded to the warnings issued by building inspectors by sending his workers straight back to the upper floors of the warehouse, and posting lookouts on the approaching roads to the site to detect any returning inspectors!
l personally witnessed Murli Thandani FALL ASLEEP in court as the particulars of the case were discussed!
Thandani was eventually fined only £99,000 for causing the deaths of 3 men.
* On April 24th 1998, 24 year old Simon Jones was killed in an horrific incident on his 1st day working for an agency unloading ships at Euromin's terminal docks in Shoreham By Sea, West Sussex.
Simon was in the hold of a cargo ship when he was decapitated by the mechanised jaws of a crane.
He had not received adequate briefing or training, and was grossly inexperienced.
The crane operator didn't speak English, and the Banksman responsible for directing the Crane Operator, and the Supervisor were unable to verbally communicate with each other due to the language barrier.
Once again, the CPS declined to prosecute anybody over Simon's death. His family were nothing short of valiant in maintaining their campaign for justice.The Euromin terminal was picketed, and the agency Simon worked for occupied.
Simon Jones' family made legal history by being the first people to successfully apply for a judicial review into a decision by the CPS not to prosecute for corporate manslaughter.
Despite this, and despite picketing of the CPS Headquarters, nobody was found guilty of being responsible for Simon's death.
The only people to face legal sanction were Simon's parents for obstructing the offices of the employment agency, and some protestors picketing the Euromin port who were arrested under the anti-trade union laws!
These 3 examples illustrate the raw tragedy of death at work , as well as underlining how hard it is ALREADY to hold unsafe bosses to account.
What we need, are TOUGHER laws without the infinite loopholes that are brazenly used by companies to escape their duty to those who generate profit.
UnfortunateIy, this government of clueless rich kids, and spineless enablers do not see OUR safety at work as important.
History is the screaming lessons of past mistakes at the Coalition but they choose to play deaf.
They are too busy playing to the gallery of the Daily Mail, and currying favour with tax dodging millionaire moguls to care.
I started this piece by talking about what we CAN call this government;
One thing we CAN'T call them is Scrooge.
After all, even he listened and learned from the ghosts of the past.