Education secretary Michael Gove is proposing to introduce measures to make it easier to sack teachers - part of a worrying trend across industry.
Last week the government announced that it was going to make it easier to fire "bad" teachers. A process which currently takes an academic year will be shrunk to just a term.
The NUT has quite rightly opposed this as a "bullies charter", and as plain bad management. Christine Blower appeared on the Today program to denounce this backward step; her arguments were not wrong, but they were specific to teaching.
The problem is, she didn’t deal with the bigger picture.
If we pull back and look at the broader landscape, we find a picture of employment rights - fought for over generations - being washed away.
To many people it seems strange that it can take a year to sack a teacher. This is largely because in most people's understanding it’s all too easy to get the sack.
An increasingly large part of the workforce works permanently under the threat of someone saying "don't come back tomorrow”.
This has long been the case in a lot of small businesses. Should business go down, or you get on the wrong side of the boss, you’ve had your chips.
But even in bigger companies, that supposedly have policies and procedures for dealing with HR issues, the balance of power has been moving against workers for a long time.
Once they have decided to get rid of you, that 's it. The boss is judge, jury and executioner.
In theory there are legal protections, in reality few people feel able to take them up. Not without reason, they are difficult to access, personally draining to pursue and rarely have a positive outcome.
Many workers simply don't even bother appealing against the decision to dismiss them. They generally reckon that it's easier to just go and try and find another job. Most workers reckon that once they've decided to get rid of you, you might as well go; they'll be on your case forever after otherwise. This is often the case even in the current climate.
Many workers are simply told, “don’t come back tomorrow.” And then they are specifically barred from the workplace, an increasingly simple thing to do given the number that now seem to have security gates, guards, and various types of doors and barriers that can only be opened with passes and codes. “Confidentiality” often means that colleagues are none the wiser. People simply disappear.
The archetypal modern office buildings are increasingly secured by the same people who run prisons and other places of detention.
Essentially. management have the ability to sack anyone, at any time, without any real consequence. And this is the model of employment that the Tories want to extend to the whole economy. As soon as they came to office they were talking about making it easier to dismiss people from their jobs. They want everyone to be equally at the mercy of the arbitrary power of management to deprive you of your livelihood.
And as they say, the arbitrary use of power is tyranny.
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