Thursday, November 24, 2011

British job law shake-up to curb "unfair dismissal" tribunals: We'll free firms from red tape, vows minister

Emergency measures to kick-start Britain’s faltering economic recovery by reining in a £1billion-a-year employment tribunal bonanza will be unveiled today.

After a row in the Coalition over how far to go in slashing business red tape, Vince Cable will pledge to cut the number of tribunal claims hitting firms by at least a quarter.

The Business Secretary will also say ministers will make it easier for firms to sack large numbers of workers in one go and allow bosses to read the riot act to under-performing staff without fear of being sued.

The moves will be hailed as the biggest reform of employment law for decades and have infuriated the trades unions.

Yet last night ministers were still arguing over proposals to go even further by removing the right to claim unfair dismissal from certain employees.

Tory sources said they were still fighting for small firms taking on new staff to be protected from unfair dismissal claims.

Under plans drawn up for the Prime Minister’s strategy guru Steve Hilton, but fiercely resisted by the Liberal Democrats, firms would be able to dismiss staff at will as long as they are paid a fixed sum in compensation based on length of employment.

‘We’ll get there in the end, even if only for small companies,’ said one source.

The Coalition argues that unfair dismissal and compensation claims are increasingly exploited by disgruntled staff and their lawyers, adding more burdens to business. Ministers say it is essential to cut red tape as the private sector is asked to drag Britain out of the economic mire.

Today’s reforms, the Government says, will benefit employers to the tune of £40million.

Mr Cable will confirm that the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims will rise from one to two years from next April.

That will wind the law back to 1999, before which workers had to be employed for two years or more before they could pursue unfair dismissal cases.

All claims will have to go through a process of conciliation before they end up in a tribunal, while the Government will also consult on allowing ‘protected conversations’ in the workplace. These will allow either a boss or a member of staff to speak their mind without fear of it being used against them in court or at a tribunal later on, letting managers point out where employees are falling short without being hit with a constructive dismissal claim.

The plans would also help employees who wish to complain about a boss but fear disciplinary action would be taken against them if they speak out.

Mr Cable will also announce an overhaul of collective redundancy rules. He says the consultation period required in law when a firm wants to sack 100 or more staff – currently 90 days – should be reduced to as little as 30 days.

Business leaders welcomed the plans, having called for action to curb the number of employment tribunal claims.

Last year, there were a record 218,000 claims, up 44 per cent since 2008. The industrial courts grant an estimated £1billion a year in payouts to those who claim they have been wrongly dismissed or suffered discrimination.

Katja Hall of the CBI said: ‘We particularly welcome the changes to tribunals, including a rapid resolution scheme, which will allow faster justice for legitimate disputes.’

But TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘Reducing protection for people at work will not save or create a single job.’


That’s enough anti-racist blather about Blatter

The obnoxious FIFA (soccer) president had a point for once – and the real targets of the moral backlash are the masses who watch and play football

When the presenter on the Talksport radio phone-in (the fount of all football wisdom) declared that ‘NO-ONE IN BRITAIN’ could defend what FIFA president Sepp Blatter had done, it was clear that something Evil must be afoot. When the media storm became a political one, and the figurehead of world football was denounced not only by the prime minister of the United Kingdom, but also by his secretary of state for culture, media and sport and even by the children’s minister, followed by the Labour leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, it was obvious we must be facing a crisis of national and international importance that could affect the next generation.

What crime against sport, humanity and the children could the old fool Blatter have committed to provoke such an outcry? Had he karate-kicked David Beckham? Turned up at the FIFA fancy dress ball in a Nazi uniform? Or perhaps called an African football official a ‘f***ing black c**t’?

Not quite. What Blatter did was give an interview to CNN, in which he was asked about the extent of racism in football today – a question, incidentally, prompted by the allegations of racial abuse facing England captain John Terry. This is the response that brought the civilised world down on Blatter’s head:

‘There is no racism, there is maybe one of the players towards another, he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one. But also the one who is affected by that, he should say that this is a game. We are in a game, and at the end of the game, we shake hands, and this can happen, because we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination.’

Could these three badly constructed sentences have been the cause of such general we-can’t-believe-our-ears! hysteria for the past week? What was all that really about?

At the risk of contradicting the omniscient Talksport muppet, we might dare to suggest that, notwithstanding his politically incorrect language, the obnoxious Blatter for once had a point – indeed he had two points. And that the real target of the backlash has not just been the imperious Blatter, but more importantly, the working-class foot soldiers who play and watch football.

Briefly, on Blatter’s two reasonable points. First, it is beyond doubt that racism in and around football in a country such as Britain has declined dramatically over recent decades, both on and off the pitch. Things are now so different to the atmosphere of casual racism in which I grew up playing and watching football in the Sixties and Seventies that to say ‘there is no racism’ can barely be called an exaggeration, never mind a lie.

This is not, however, as Blatter and his cronies always claim, because of FIFA’s official anti-racist initiatives or the self-righteous ‘Kick it Out’ campaigns over here. Indeed, these things have mushroomed as racism has declined. It is far more because of the way our society has changed – and football follows where society leads, rather than ‘setting standards’ as some imagine. That is why when I was an angry young man we campaigned against racism, not racism in football.

Secondly, Blatter also had a point when he suggested, in his own cack-handed way, that offensive or abusive words or actions that do occur on the football pitch should be treated differently from what happens off it. It has long been accepted that football is not normal life.

As spiked’s sports columnist Duleep Allirajah recently argued, in response to the controversies over alleged racial slurs in the Premier League, the traditional view in sport has been that what’s said on the pitch stays on the pitch – and winding up your opponents is part of the game: ‘This isn’t genteel Radio 4 repartee; it’s war minus the shooting.

The traditional toleration of sledging is premised on a distinction between public and private. What’s said on the pitch is considered private and therefore outside the scope of conventional etiquette. As Arsene Wenger said of the Terry incident, players will say things “in a passionate situation” during a game that they don’t really mean…. Whatever insults were traded during the game, players are expected to shake hands and leave these animosities when the match is over. Yes, you need a thick skin, but the rules of engagement are fairly clear – or at least they used to be.’

After all, we do not treat somebody kicking us on the football pitch in the same way as we would if it happened in the street. So why should what they say be any different? The new attempt to impose a polite form of etiquette not only on the terraces but on the pitch is symptomatic of the muddying of the line between what is considered public and private these days. Football can only be the loser. The fact that not only the FA but the (thought) police have become involved in investigating something like the Terry business is far more dangerous than anything Blatter might say.

I don’t really want to defend Blatter any more than anybody else does. He certainly should not be running international football – though the alternatives on offer are little better. But the latest outburst of anti-Blatter outrage has not only been about him. The real target has been football players and fans, which largely means working-class men.

The theme of most of the complaints has been that by not simply repeating the official anti-racist mantra, Blatter’s words will somehow give the green light to everybody else around football to let out their inner racist. Much as genteel critics in the media and politics dislike Blatter, the people they fear and loath far more are the crowd, whom they believe harbour racial prejudice whether they know it or not. The idea of ‘role models’ who can spark monkey-see-monkey-do behaviour is bad enough when it is applied to celebrity footballers. The notion that a bloated suit such as Blatter can somehow set the standards that the world’s youth will follow is bizarre.

This is all a symptom of the way that football has become much more than a game. It has been turned into a national and international instrument for the moral re-education of the masses. Isolated and unpopular governments and authorities who see football as the only way they can still communicate with large numbers of people are desperate to exploit the game to promote all sorts of political agendas.

In particular, the crusade against racism in football has become a powerful way to try to impose a conformist view on the crowd and police the words and even thoughts of ‘ordinary people’. So important has this instrument of moral re-education become to the authorities that no scintilla of doubt can be entertained, no whisper of ambiguity allowed. That is why Blatter’s few clumsy and off-message words caused such consternation.

The irony is of course that FIFA itself has been a central player in this game of hunt-the-unwitting-racist. For the likes of Blatter, the World Cup is no longer just about the best team winning, but about striking a PR blow for Good against Evil and showing they are on the side of the angels. The 2010 World Cup in South Africa was turned into an anti-racist festival, with team captains ludicrously required to read out Stalinist-style statements about their commitment to being good guys before the quarter finals (would they have been allowed to play if they had refused?), and Nelson Mandela wheeled out to declare that ‘[football] is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers’. Which is why of course governments want to use it to kick down the walls that stop them connecting with the working class – and why British politicians leapt at the chance to strike moral postures high up the pitch over ‘Blattergate’.

Indeed, it is striking how much this affair has been a very British kerfuffle, largely ignored by the rest of planet football. A few cynics have suggested this is to do with settling scores with Blatter over the fiasco of England’s humiliated bid for the 2018 World Cup. No doubt. But more broadly it is also about seizing the opportunity to show that Britain can still lead the world on the moral high ground, if not on the football pitch. That is a dangerous game, inviting others to point out that it was the allegation of racism against England’s captain that kicked all of this off in the first place. Those who live by the sword of self-righteousness can perish by it, too.

The worst culprits, as so often, have been the allegedly liberal-minded British pundits, screeching as if Blatter had been found guilty of Holocaust denial. These are the types who claim to love the ‘beautiful game’, yet hate the ‘ugly’ working-class people who watch and play it. At least one even went so far as to try to connect the Blatter affair with the sort of poisonous hatred that led to the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in London 18 years ago, for which two men are currently on trial. There are many things of which Sepp Blatter might be thought guilty, but that is not among them.

Enough of all the ‘anti-racist’ blather about Blatter. You need not be ‘soft’ on racism to see that he had a point – and even if he hadn’t, we should defend free speech for arrogant old fools, too. But more importantly, let’s stand up for football as the world’s game, rather than a tool for the moral re-education of the masses, before the fat man blows the whistle and it’s all over.


UK 'must do more to assure aid budget is not lost to corrupt foreign regimes'

Hear hear!

Ministers need to do more to prevent Britain’s ballooning aid budget from being lost to corrupt foreign regimes such as Somalia and Zimbabwe, a watchdog will report today.

The warning is another damning assessment of the Department for International Development which is enjoying a 34 per cent spending increase – to £12.6billion in 2014 – at a time when Whitehall budgets are being slashed.

In March, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell announced a strategy which will involve pouring billions of pounds of new aid money into some of the world’s most corrupt regimes in an effort to tackle poverty.
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell: He announced that billions of pounds of aid money will be poured into corrupt regimes

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell: He announced that billions of pounds of aid money will be poured into corrupt regimes

He has insisted changes have been made to safeguard taxpayers’ money.

But in its first report, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact warns: ‘This focus on fragile states, together with the planned increase of the aid budget, will expose UK aid to higher levels of corruption risk.’

It adds that there is a lack of ‘coherent and strategic’ response when dealing with countries which have a high risk of corruption.

Figures reveal the biggest single aid winner will be Somalia, which has been riven by civil war for years and is rated the most corrupt nation on Earth.

Other winners include Burma, Zimbabwe, and Yemen, all of which will receive double-digit percentage rises.
Somali militia of Al-Shabab are seen during exercises at their military training camp outside Mogadishu. The country is the world's most corrupt

Somali militia of Al-Shabab are seen during exercises at their military training camp outside Mogadishu. The country is the world's most corrupt

The department has insisted that none of the money will go to governments and will instead be delivered through bodies such as the European Union and World Bank.

But the report warned: ‘DFID’s monitoring of these partners requires improvement. There is a need for more articulated processes for managing the corruption risks associated with particular aid types and greater attention to due diligence and on-the-ground monitoring.’

The watchdog added: ‘Taxpayers have the right to expect that the aid budget not only maximises impact but also delivers value for money.’

The ICAI reports has introduced ‘traffic light’ scoring system for its reports. The overall assessment given to the DfID’s approach to anti-corruption is ‘Amber Red’ – the second highest danger rating.

Graham Ward, ICAI Chief Commissioner, said ‘In order to manage the increasing risks presented by DFID’s focus on fragile states, DFID must give more attention to the fight against corruption.

‘DFID needs to invest more in analysis of corruption risks and a more strategic approach to tackling corruption proactively.’

Mr Mitchell said the report showed there were ‘some areas where we must do better’.


Footballers must not wear orange shoes??

I wouldn't be seen dead in orange shoes but the guy is black and blacks seem to have a much greater love of color than I and many whites do so he should claim that the ban is racist! THAT would put the cat among the pigeons!

The saga of Earl Bennett and his orange shoes will likely come to an end today, because the league has gone total jerkface about it. It's not just a fine Bennett would be facing this time. From Will Brinson at CBS:

According to CBS Sports' Charley Casserly, if Bennett wears the orange shoes on Sunday, he'll be fined another $15,000. And he'll be removed from the game until he changes.

"The NFL told me they called the Bears this week and told them this: if Bennett wears the shoes today during the game, he will be fined a minimum of $15,000," Casserly said on The NFL Today. "But more importantly, he will be removed from the game and he will not be allowed to go back into the game until he has the proper footwear on."

I love that this is the rules violation the NFL gets really serious about. A blatant, intentional helmet-to-helmet hit won't get a guy thrown out. You can cut the knees of an engaged blocker all day long, and you probably won't even be penalized. You can do whatever it was that Jerome Simpson did, and you're good to go.

Wrong color shoes, though? You are not welcome on our field, sir. It's a weird, weird league sometimes.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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