An "industrial policy", with an accompanying "reform of corporate governance and business behaviour", could well be on the cards from this Tory government, but its effectiveness has to be open to serious doubt (Enough snappy titles.Let`s have a consistent strategy,10/10/16). Can anyone imagine May`s party supporting the introduction of co-determination which would actually make a difference. The requirement of a workers` representative on company boards might be the sort of token gesture, or "window-dressing", that Tory backbenchers might promote, but would they approve a measure insisting on a third of board members being made up of elected employees` represenatives, a sufficiently high number to have actual influence on pay policy? May`s naming and shaming companies failing to pay the minimum wage was easy, but doing something to remedy the outrageous statistic that only three employers have been prosecuted in the last two and a half years, for breaking this law, clearly goes against the Tory grain (Only three out of 700 firms prosecuted for paying below minimum wage,28/09/16).
The idea of "rewarding companies", along the lines of FDR`s "Blue Eagles" in 1930s America, is not without merit, especially if they pay their proper share of taxes, and pay the actual rather than the "national" living wage, but is insufficient. The question of zero-hours contracts needs dealing with, as does the exploitation of tenants by private landlords, both topics which received inadequate attention last week in Birmingham., but both, in their way, connected to an industrial strategy.
Policies are all very well, but until they are backed by action, they remain very firmly in the folder marked "Tory rhetoric"!
If, as Philip Inman tells us, the cabinet "is split on Theresa May`s plan to put workers on boards", imagine the divisions in Tory ranks if the idea wasn`t mere "window-dressing" (Governance test,12/10/16). Presumably many Tory MPs object to co-determination on principle; workers should have no say in how their employers run their companies. If workers on boards were to have any effect, for example, on the pay gap between average worker and CEO, the TUC reckons a third of companies` boards should be made up of workers` representatives.
Inman says May has "to go all-in or fold"; sensible money has to be on the Disraelian pragmatic approach. The reform would insist on one workers` representative on the board of every large company, whilst being "permissive", in that companies could allow more if they so desired