Saturday, 18 July 2015

Guardian letter on CBI and unions

With total predictability, the CBI is giving its backing to the government`s proposals to reduce the power of trade unions (Strike law plans: unions will have to explain tweets,16/07/15). It takes every opportunity
to divert attention from the obvious facts that its members are paying wages which are far too low, employing too many staff on zero-hours contracts, and avoiding paying the taxes due to the Treasury. Already this month it has objected to Cameron`s aim to force companies with more than 250 employees to publish pay differentials between male and female workers, preferring the proven failed policy for data to be published on a voluntary basis.Then there was the blame for low productivity being put on the "skills shortage", whilst simultaneously objecting  to the budget`s "measures to boost apprenticeship numbers", a proposal which could lead to businesses themselves teaching the exact skills needed (Skills shortages hindering growth in critical sectors, CBI poll reveals,12/07/15). The CBI presumably thinks the taxpayer should fund thousands of new teachers being trained to deliver advanced courses in schools, in subjects like construction, manufacturing and engineering, even though it constantly lobbies for lowering corporate tax levels, and does nothing about reducing the £40bn tax gap., 
       The common practice amongst FTSE100 companies of paying CEOs around 140 times the amount paid to the average worker in the company has to be a huge hindrance to improving productivity, especially when workers are denied a share of the profits their efforts bring to the firms. Decreasing the huge gaps in pay, both between bosses and workers, and males and females, is critical in reducing the problem of low productivity, itself  the result of  lack of foresight shown all too often by our politicians and the CBI.

    Your article quoted the CBI`s deputy director-general`s comment supporting the "introduction of thresholds as an important but fair step", but omitted the section which stressed how the CBI "has long called for the modernisation of our outdated industrial relations". If they are so outdated, shouldn`t the CBI be supporting the introduction of "electronic balloting" for unions, as Frances O`Grady sensibly argues (Partisan politics is no basis for proper policy-making,16/07/15)? 

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