Employment Rights Legislation

Debate between Lord Woodley and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 1st February 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, we are proud of the UK’s record on employment standards, having raised domestic standards over recent years to make them some of the highest in the world. Our high standards were never dependent on us mirroring the same rules as the EU. We are seizing the opportunities provided by Brexit to review all retained EU law and ensure that our regulations are tailored to the needs of the UK economy.

Lord Woodley Portrait Lord Woodley (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My Lords, I am pleased that the Minister recognises the importance of employment rights to workers in Britain. But as he will remember, last week I asked, as did my noble friend Lord Watts, whether he would guarantee that no employment rights will fall off the statute books at year end. Not surprisingly, the Minister did not answer the question, which in my mind speaks volumes. Let us try again, please. Contrary to the impression given last week, at least 13 such legal protections, categorised as EU retained laws, are at risk. Let me name just one: TUPE, which protects pay and terms and conditions in the event of company takeovers. This right will be lost at the end of the year unless the Government actively save it. Again, I ask the Minister: can he guarantee that the TUPE protections will not be scrapped and are not for the chop?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I have said to the noble Lord on this issue before, our workers’ rights, of which we are very proud, do not and did not depend on our membership of the EU. We have standards far in excess of those provided by the EU. Regarding the regulations the noble Lord mentions, as with all retained EU law we will look at that and see whether it is appropriate for the UK economy, and if necessary we will modernise, update or replace it.

Manufacturing Post Brexit

Debate between Lord Woodley and Lord Callanan
Thursday 26th January 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Woodley Portrait Lord Woodley (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My Lords, Honda closed its factory primarily because of Brexit, when, unlike Europe, we removed those tariffs on vehicles coming in from Japan. Twelve years ago, the Government’s Automotive Council, which I had the privilege of sitting on, set aside £400 million—a lot of money in those days—to entice battery manufactures into the UK. It was small change compared to the billions of state money being put in by Germany, China and Japan. So, with respect to the Minister’s answer the day before, it is not nostalgic to nationalise Britishvolt; it is strategic, irrespective of the relatively small but very important battery production by some car companies that is taking place now. My question is: if we failed in battery mega factories, what is the Government’s strategy now for the industry? Is it hydrogen vehicles or whatever? Without investment and without strategy, we will have no industry in 25 years’ time.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I know that the noble Lord is passionate in his views on this, but I am afraid that I just do not agree with him that nationalising the car industry is the way forward. The noble Lord will have been around in the 1970s when we saw the decimation of the UK car industry under state control. The future is not state control; the future is what we are doing, which is incentivising manufacturers to move to the UK. The case of Britishvolt is very disappointing, but the money that we had available remains on the table. We very much hope that other companies will show interest in the excellent site in Cambois, near Blyth, and we continue to do all that we can to encourage investment in the UK.

Hospitality Industry

Debate between Lord Woodley and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 24th January 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My noble friend makes an important point. We need to have a fair and balanced immigration policy, treating all parts of the world equally.

Lord Woodley Portrait Lord Woodley (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My Lords, I declare an interest, in that many thousands of workers in the hospitality industry are members of my union, Unite. As the Minister knows, new figures show that one in seven jobs in this sector are now completely unfilled. It is impeding businesses dramatically, to the tune of 16% of their revenues, and reducing productivity and potential profits—profits are falling by the wayside. Does the Minister therefore support the industry’s call to lower visa requirements, as other noble Lords have mentioned before, to help address the chronic staff shortages, reduce VAT to 10% for 12 months, as has been mentioned, and continue the energy support for at least the next 12 months.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I know that the Home Office keeps all visa policies under review. If the noble Lord will forgive me, I will leave the setting of VAT to the Chancellor, but I am sure he has heard the call that the noble Lord has made.

REUL Bill: Trade Unions and Workers’ Rights

Debate between Lord Woodley and Lord Callanan
Monday 23rd January 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I do not have a precise number but there are of course a number of civil servants working on the legislation that is before Parliament and has been discussed extensively in the House of Commons. Every department is engaged in looking through its EU legislation to see what is there. Obviously most of the main pieces have been identified, but sometimes there are obscure Acts and regulations that they are still discovering.

Lord Woodley Portrait Lord Woodley (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My Lords, unfortunately the Minister has selective amnesia, and that is very worrying. This appalling Bill places many of our precious and hard-fought-for employment rights on the chopping block to be axed at the whim of the Secretary of State and, frankly, that is shameful. The Tory manifesto promised that Brexit would allow us to raise our standards in workers’ rights and not diminish them at all. Can the Minister give a cast-iron guarantee that, come 1 January, workers will keep their rights to holiday pay, TUPE protection, parental leave and of course protection for pregnant part-time workers? In fact, will he confirm that no existing employment rights will be weakened or, worse, scrapped?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The noble Lord has a good line in hyperbole but, as normal, he is absolutely wrong. UK employment rights do not depend on EU law. I will give him some examples. UK workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks of annual leave; in the EU, it is only four weeks. We provide a year of maternity leave, with the option to convert it to parental leave; the EU minimum is just 14 weeks. Our labour standards are some of the highest in the world. We are proud of that, and it does not depend on what the EU does.

Prime Minister: Trade Unions

Debate between Lord Woodley and Lord Callanan
Monday 19th December 2022

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my noble friend for that question but, as he knows, the Government have said that they will accept the recommendations from the independent pay review bodies in full. We certainly hope that the trade unions will call off the actions that are causing so much misery to billions of people all over the country.

Lord Woodley Portrait Lord Woodley (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

As the former leader of Unite the Union, let me tell noble Lords that no worker wants to go out on strike, as it costs them wages that they can least afford to lose. But workers, such as our marvellous nurses and others, are being driven to despair and desperation; their must-go place before Christmas is the local food bank, unfortunately. Pay the nurses and other public servants proper wages covering inflation that is not of their making, and stop hiding behind the farcical and outdated review body’s recommendations. It is corporate profiteering that is driving inflation. Does the Minister agree?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

It will not surprise the noble Lord to know that I do not agree with him. The reason we have independent pay review bodies is to try to take the politics out of these settlements. The Government have said that we will accept those recommendations in full. Frankly, some of the increases that are being asked for are unaffordable.

Employment Policies

Debate between Lord Woodley and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 6th December 2022

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Woodley Portrait Lord Woodley
- Hansard - -

To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the compatibility of their employment policies with the International Labour Organisation’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the Government are proud to uphold our high, internationally recognised labour standards. The UK continues to be committed to enhancing labour standards globally by negotiating and implementing International Labour Organization standards, having raised domestic standards over recent years to make them some of the highest in the world. To date, the UK has ratified 89 ILO conventions, most recently the violence and harassment convention, which was ratified in March this year.

Lord Woodley Portrait Lord Woodley (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My Lords, I only wish that the Government were indeed honouring their international obligations, as the Minister suggests. Since 2010, the Government have reneged on ILO commitments time and again, as he knows, most recently by allowing unscrupulous bosses to break strikes with agency staff, which is a clear breach of Convention No. 87 on freedom of association and protection of the right to organise. Now, they are proposing to do so again with their disgraceful minimum service levels Bill, which is another violation of Convention No. 87. Are these anti-union attacks intended to deprive workers of the only means they have to protect themselves against the greatest fall in living standards in over 100 years?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The noble Lord will be unsurprised to know that I completely disagree with him. The Government are confident that all our measures are in full compliance with our international obligations. We remain in full compliance with ILO conventions. We are trying to balance the understandable right to strike, which I know that the noble Lord is very proud of—but I also want to support the right of people to go to work, if they wish to do so.

Employers: Fire and Rehire

Debate between Lord Woodley and Lord Callanan
Thursday 3rd November 2022

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the Government have been clear that threats of dismissal and re-engagement should not be used as a negotiation tactic. We have asked the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service to conduct an evidence-gathering exercise to learn more about the use of dismissal and re- engagement practices, and its report is available on its website. The Government are now going further; we will bring forward a statutory code of practice and publish a draft for consultation in due course.

Lord Woodley Portrait Lord Woodley (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I thank the noble Lord for his update. Members across this House share my belief that fire and rehire is immoral, but this obnoxious behaviour is still happening today. We know that and the Minister knows that. It is disappointing that, in spite of the kind words and efforts that have just been spoken about, the Government are not doing enough to eradicate this practice even though opinion polls show that 70% of Tory voters believe that this should be banned. Can the Minister therefore confirm that the new Government will be supporting my Private Member’s Bill? I emphasise that it protects companies which are at risk of going under and at the same time protects workers from the exploitation of opportunistic employers?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am sure the noble Lord will not be surprised to know that we will not be supporting his Private Member’s Bill. Let me say that dismissal and re-engagement should only be considered as an absolute last resort if changes to employment contracts are critical and voluntary agreement is not possible. We do not want to encourage the practice but do not think that banning it would be right because, in some limited circumstances, it is the only way to save businesses and protect the jobs within them.

Employment Rights

Debate between Lord Woodley and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 19th July 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Woodley Portrait Lord Woodley
- Hansard - -

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to improve employment rights for workers in Great Britain.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the UK has one of the best workers’ rights records in the world. As a result of government action, there are now more employees on the payroll than ever before, and the unemployment rate is close to record lows. We have raised the national living wage to the highest amount yet, and on Friday we supported the allocation of tips Bill and the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill in the Commons.

Lord Woodley Portrait Lord Woodley (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, after last night’s debate it is even clearer now that, far from improving employment rights, this Government are attacking them, even against the will of many employers. With new taxes on trade unions, a nudge and a wink to fire and rehire, and changes in the law to let bad bosses break strikes with agency staff, this is an ideological and unwarranted attack on the trade union movement and it will come back to haunt this Government at the next election—at least, I hope so. I ask the Minister again: why are the Government launching an all-out war on the trade unions? Will he accept responsibility for poisoning industrial relations across this country, as many employers are warning?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I could not disagree more with the noble Lord. Given his record it is understandable, but the noble Lord is obsessed with trade unions, which, as I keep reminding him, represent only a minority of workers. The best workers’ right is the right to a job, and this Government are delivering record levels of employment.

Strikes: Cover by Agency Workers

Debate between Lord Woodley and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 5th July 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Woodley Portrait Lord Woodley
- Hansard - -

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with (1) employers, (2) employment agencies, and (3) trade unions, about their plans to remove regulation 7 of the Conduct Regulations 2003 to allow agency staff to cover for striking workers.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the removal of Regulation 7, which gets rid of an outdated blanket ban on employment businesses supplying agency staff to cover strikes, is about ensuring that the British public do not have to pay the price for disproportionate strike action. We consulted extensively on this in 2015 and have carefully considered the responses received when deciding to proceed. In our view, further consultation is unlikely to bring up fundamental issues not already raised.

Lord Woodley Portrait Lord Woodley (Lab)
- Hansard - -

I thank the Minister for his response, but he will not be surprised to hear that it is just not good enough. He has not consulted trade unions or employment agencies and, with respect, he does not even want to consult Parliament. That is the simple truth of it. Just last week—and I am not sure whether this is government policy—he claimed that unions do not represent anybody. That is crazy stuff—tell it to the 6 million trade unionists in this country. Will he at least listen to the bosses of Hays, Adecco, Manpower and 10 other major UK recruitment firms when they warn him that these strike-breaking proposals are likely to inflame and prolong disputes, not solve them?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The noble Lord will not be surprised to know that I do not agree with him. We did consult the trade unions; in fact, the TUC submitted a petition of 25,000 names against the proposals, so they clearly had a chance to comment. We will of course consult Parliament when the regulations are debated.

Trades Union Congress: Levelling Up

Debate between Lord Woodley and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 29th June 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Woodley Portrait Lord Woodley (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, it seems to me that the premise at the heart of this Question is the wrong way round. The Government should be supporting those 6 million trade unionists in this country who are really struggling to survive the cost of living crisis that is before us. They should not be undermining them by allowing bad bosses to break strikes with agency workers while, at the same time, the shareholders and directors are cleaning up. Does the Minister understand that the best way to build back better is to empower workers and trade unions so that they can hold unscrupulous employers to account?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am sorry to tell the noble Lord that I just do not share this outdated methodology that, on the one hand, you have workers and, on the other, you have bosses. We are all working together for the good of the country. The thing about the trade unions in this country is that they are now a minority profession: only 13% of workers in the private sector and only half of those in the public sector are in trade unions. The reality is that they do not represent anybody.

Fire and Rehire

Debate between Lord Woodley and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 15th June 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the Government asked ACAS to investigate fire and rehire, and it published guidance in November. The Government have announced their intention to publish a statutory code on fire and rehire in March, and the draft is due to be published for consultation this summer. The code will set out good practice, helping parties to reach a negotiated agreement. In cases of dispute, the code will be admissible in relevant legal proceedings and may result in increased compensation.

Lord Woodley Portrait Lord Woodley (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I welcome the Minister’s response. Codes and consultations are helpful but, with respect, they do not go far enough. Ministers, including the Prime Minister, are paying lip service to condemning fire and rehire as an unacceptable practice. However, talk is cheap; we need legislation to stop the many abuses by numerous big-name companies and others. Today I will introduce a Bill banning fire and rehire, except in the most extreme circumstances—the same Bill that the Government so cynically squashed in another place. Therefore, my question to the Minister is simple: will he do the right thing and back my Bill —yes or no?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, we always do the right thing. I realise that it is an easy soundbite for the noble Lord to say “ban fire and rehire”, but even he would accept that you cannot ban redundancies, for instance if a company is going bust. You would end up banning the rehiring part of the equation.

Vauxhall at Ellesmere Port and Battery Manufacturing Strategy

Debate between Lord Woodley and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 2nd March 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am pleased to tell the noble Baroness that we are already investing millions of pounds in training for green jobs under the Green Homes Grant scheme. We invested about £7 million in a training competition, and there are numerous other government schemes doing precisely what she suggested: the eco scheme, the home upgrade grant, et cetera.

Lord Woodley Portrait Lord Woodley (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I appreciate the helpful comments that have already been made, but I must ask the Government to leave no stone unturned in keeping this Vauxhall car plant at Ellesmere Port open—it is crucial, as people have said. Finalising an agreement with Stellantis to manufacture not one but potentially two next-generation battery-driven vehicles is crucial, securing, of course, thousands of high-skilled jobs for Ellesmere Port and, indeed, our country. Battery-driven vehicles are the future for this industry, if we are to have any future at all, and I suggest that it would be unforgiveable if the Government missed the opportunity of this investment and of securing these jobs for our country.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I know the noble Lord’s personal commitment to the north-west, and I agree with him about leaving no stone unturned. I assure him that the Government are committed to securing the future of Ellesmere Port. The Business Secretary and his senior officials are engaging frequently with the company to explore ways to ensure that the plant stays open. The noble Lord will understand that, while these discussions are ongoing, I cannot comment further, but we will do all that we can.