The government promised us with reform of the Employment Tribunal system several months ago, but hard details have still to emerge. Instead the Post Office Minister, Ed Davey addressed the Lib Dems at their conference in Birmingham on Monday and sandwiched between talk about more post offices and supermarkets he produced detailed proposals for a radical overhaul of the ET system, thus redressing the alleged imbalance between employers and employees.
No, he didn’t. I made that last piece up. Instead he waffled on about the usual stuff, about how lawyers were the only ones to benefit etc etc – cheap shots to get the faithful on their feet, but a bit stale for wider public consumption and did nothing to add to the debate. The soundbite of choice was ”that (It) needs a radical shift from confrontation to conciliation”. Yes, ok, but how are you going to do it Ed?
Here, thanks to the Telegraph, is the relevant part of his speech;
“Some people have told me they are worried about the government’s agenda on employment regulations. That it’s not a Liberal Democrat agenda. Well, as Minister responsible, I promise you that I am delivering on the principles we share. Regulations that stop job creation betray people who want to work. For too long, our employment tribunal system has been bad for employers and bad for employees – but very good for lawyers. It needs a radical shift from confrontation to conciliation. That is my driving passion. But it’s not the only one. I’m especially proud to have signed an order to end legalised age discrimination at work. A law that allowed firms to force people to retire at 65 – even when they were good at their job, and did not want to go. From better rights for families to ending age discrimination. The Liberal Democrats have shown that – in government – we can and we have helped people and businesses – and we should campaign on that success.”
By the way, did anyone else clock Davey’s theft of Neil Kinnock’s line about “A Labour government … a Labour government…”? Kinnock originally uttered that line (I believe) at a Trade Union conference in c.1983 when he was fighting the malign influence of the Militant tendency and the Hard Left: reds under the bed etc . Here Davey was recycling the line to complain about Post Office closures. Yes, Post Office closures are an important issue, but it didn’t sound quite as good here coming from Davey as from Kinnock.