Many of the attacks on workplace rights come from a report so toxic that the government refused to publish it for many months.
It was drawn up by venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft, who has donated more than half a million pounds to the Conservative Party since David Cameron became its leader. Beecroft is a multi-millionaire and chairs Dawn Capital, the venture capital owners of Wonga.com, the controversial payday lender that charges an APR of 4,214% on its loans.
Beecroft’s report calls for many employment rights to be torn up. He even wants the Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority abolished. This was brought in after 21 Chinese cockle pickers were drowned in Morecambe Bay and designed to protect vulnerable workers in the worst industries.
Beecroft himself admits:
“some people would be dismissed simply because their employer did not like them. While this is sad I believe it is a price worth paying.”
He wants to strip away many more employment rights from employees of small firms with fewer than ten staff.
Beecroft’s report goes too far for many Liberal Democrats. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that it would have “a chilling effect” on the labour market.
Norman Lamb MP, who is now the minister responsible for workplace rights, but was Clegg’s chief of staff when the report leaked into the press said that it would be “madness” to throw away workers’ protections against unjustified sackings.
“It is likely to have the unintended consequence of destabilising consumer confidence at a very difficult time. If every employee in the land faced the prospect that they could be removed arbitrarily, the destabilising effect could be devastating. It would legitimise Victorian employment practices.”