114 year Workers Rights Scrapped by Coalition Government.

 114 year Workers’ Rights Scrapped  by Coalition Government.

From @Earwiggle

So, it’s official – workers today have less entitlement to be safe at work than those in Victorian Times. That the Government supports those who work and strive to support families is a nonsense. Consistently, we witness the Coalition continuously and callously attack ordinary working people.  David Cameron rejoices at a return to the Victorian “Golden Age”. (1)


I recall a death certificate which I acquired from genealogical research. Metal polishing in Birmingham’s jewellery quarter in Victorian Times meant working with toxic metals, and one woman met her death when her crinoline became trapped in a lathe. These workers lived in poverty  in insanitary back-to-back-housing, in poor health due to poor diet. Elsewhere, children were working in cotton mills and on the land, with little or no education and with dangerous machinery. I had imagined this was history – not the future.

The Institute for Employment Rights reports:

Victorian Era Workers’ Rights Scrapped By Coalition:

Last week, on the 25th April 2013, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill was granted royal assent, bringing into law the government’s widely unpopular proposals to scrap employers’ 114-year-old liability for their staff’s health and safety in the workplace.

This means that the burden of proof now falls on the employee to show that the employer had been negligent in their duties towards them, rather than the employer being asked to prove they were following regulations correctly, as has been the case since the Victorian era. This is likely to result in injured workers, and the families of the deceased, being unable to claim compensation for their losses due to accidents at the workplace, seeing as the evidence needed to prove negligence is held by the employer rather than the employee – and employers guilty of negligence are unlikely to willingly hand over the proof. (2)

The  Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill ERRB was amended at the very last minute  by the government, by insertion of 61 clause which will mean that a worker can be injured due to an employer’s breach of a statutory duty within health and safety at work regulations but the worker will be prevented from enforcing that breach.

At present a civil claim for personal injury can be brought for negligence and/or breach of statutory duty. A breach of statutory duty would occur, for instance, if an employer failed to comply with regulations under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA), such as failure to guard a machine or keep a gangway clear of obstructions. (3)

Employers will no longer be liable in the civil courts for the criminal offence of a breach of the HSWA regulations. In every case, rather than be able to rely on the breach of the regulations, the worker will have to prove the employer was negligent.

With the removal of legal aid, non unionised workers would be unable to challenge. Workers vulnerability to exploitative employers has been set back more than a century. Rights achieved by solidarity of working people by the Labour Movement have been ripped away. Labour opposed the ERRB Bill and must ensure a reversal when returned to government.

The ERRB motion was passed before some voters went to the polls in Local Elections last week , and without mention on the BBC and little in mainstream news.

On 16th April the government abolished the Agricultural Workers Wages Board, (AWWB) without even a debate (4)  in the Commons. This will result in poverty and could lead to exploitation of children.

Next – the minimum wage is to be targeted. Introduced by the Labour Party, this lifted many from abject poverty.  The Telegraph (5) reports that the minimum wage is at risk, and   it could be frozen, or cut. This will put millions at risk of poverty. We are living in a divided society, where women and children are being hit hardest. People are going into debt to eat and we are seeing a resurgence of scurvy. How can this be even contemplated?

Labour List on Minimum Wage Cut

Before it was introduced millions were working for terrifyingly small salaries as low as £1 an hour. The minimum wage made work pay and released millions from the most abject poverty. Despite the scare-mongering from the right, it didn’t cost jobs. It set a legal floor below which we as a society said we would not allow – or force – people to go.  (6)

We are seeing so many of Labour’s achievements in government being rolled back, the NHS, welfare state, free school meals and improved access to education.  Add to that Legal Aid, the Open University, and women’s rights. In recent years, Surestart and the Minimum Wage. Equality for Women is threatened as the Government attacks Maternity Rights, and ChildCare Support. The Tories say they want “work to pay” … but it’s certainly  not the workers who will benefit, it’s employers and big business.

The Conservative Party have not won a General Election in 21 years , yet the Liberal Democrats continue to keep this extreme, reactionary government in power, allowing  total destruction of the Welfare State, stripping assets built and earned by working people and actively pursue policies which erode Workers’ Rights. Will Liberal Democrats look to their consciences and walk?


  1. Guardian: Conservative Nostalgia for Victorian Times is Dangerous
  2. Employment Rights: Victorian Era Workers’ Rights Scrapped By Coalition:
  3. RMT -Transport  Union: Return of the Dark Satanic Mills: The End of Civil Liability in Health and Safety
  4. MPs abolish Farm Wages Board  Farmers Weekly
  5. Telegraph: Minimum Wage could be Frozen or Cut, Government Suggests
  6. Labour List: They’re coming after the Minimum Wage – Get Angry!
  7. Maternity Action : Policy and Research
  8. Think Left: Remember the Real Divide – it is Rich and Poor
  9. GMB: Government taking Workforce back to Victorian Times
  10. Morning Star: UKIP MEP blasted after Maternity Rights Rant
  11. Guardian: One is Seven Women made Redundant after Maternity Leave
  12. BBC: Many are borrowing for food

45 thoughts on “114 year Workers Rights Scrapped by Coalition Government.

      • This isn’t made up.This goes hand-in-hand with the cuts in legal aid.The tories are poisonously cynical and toxically corrupt.Their legislation states one purpose and insinuates another which is then legally binding.
        The anti-gagging law demonstrated this with it’s success in stifling democratic debate while still allowing lobbying by commercial interests.
        The Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill was written so broadly as to make any act illegal if the authorities deemed it so.
        The proposed anti-porn filters have an’esoteric’clause which can shut down access to spiritual web-sites.
        The Health and Social Care Act was written by Mckinsey and Company fully anticipating the U.S.-EU Free Trade Agreement (TTIP),which will see US private healthcare businesses[which Mckinsey and Company represent] able to bid for NHS contracts.This will cause chaos in the NHS,and the legendary patient-centred theory will go to the dogs and lawyers will get paid mega-bucks from the operating costs of the NHS,which is being murdered by the tories.


  1. The construction industry has been black balling union members and health & safety whistle blowers since the 70’s.
    Employers are subject to the “market” force that contains everyone’s right to choose, not only what they buy, but how they earn their money.
    the Insurance industry is set to profit, along with the shareholders in big PLC’s with reduced costs.
    We all have a choice who we work for and how we conduct ourselves at work.
    It’s our duty to be well informed and look out for each other, as its always been, only now, we only have the support of the law, not the government or the media.


    • Not sure we do have the support of the law with this recent change. Plus with the loss of legal aid, unless we have a trade union to stand by us, there is little we can do. Yes looking out for each other is a must, and solidarity and the trade union movement is needed now as much as ever.


    • Drew:
      you’re a liberal arse
      what nonsense
      what choice do workers have? can I just go and work for an investment bank? i don’t think so – workers have fewer and fewer opportunities than ever before as neo-liberal fascism takes its grip. Stupid workers who support this think they are immune from the ravages of the market because ‘they believe in it’ – such evangelical tribalism is just making it worse for all
      The only ones being ‘looked after’ are the elites, the rich and MPs – who can be arrested for rape and still carry on in their job FFS


      • This extreme government is launching an all-out attack on working people, on those who are unable to work, and those who can’t get jobs, and their austerity policies mean there are fewer and fewer… it is alarming! and frightening. I hope people are realising what they are about.. Trade unions and the Labour movement must stand together. We are being ripped off, and crushed! Even the lawyers are now threatening to strike over legal aid, how can an ordinary worker with no Trade Union take on employers, with law support as Drew suggests? No way..


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  5. To those who think the labour party is the answer to today’s problems – it isn’t and never will be with the army of rightwingers that control it. Boy/man Miliband ( who has never had a ‘proper’ job in his life and is also entitled to abuse his father’s legacy) is about the worst possible person to be leading a party that acquiesces to all the tories throw at the population – including the constant removal of our human rights (as above), the constant abuse of the various parts of our population – the disabled, the unemployed, the poor and now the pensioners – I don’t see the labour party even opposing the measures that are being taken – indeed Liam Byrne wants to be ‘tougher than the tories’ on welfare. There is very little to say in support of a labour party that has lost its roots and wants to maintain the status quo of neo-liberalism (nazism in my book). The labour party has sold the working and non-working people of this country down the river and I am not afraid to say so!!! And I do not have to do it here even though I find some of the debate of value! One of the current problems of the left is it makes too many assumptions.


    • There are many hard working socialists working from within the Labour Party, I am one of them … did you hear Dennis Skinner speak… and it is time to turn our back on Blair and his cronies. Ed Miliband must hold firm to reclaim Labour. I feel that Labour Party is the only Party which can oust this awful, awful government, but Labour must put forward the policies we need clearly.


      • Hi Pam, this is my first time on here and have found the above very informative and yet distressing. As for your above point, I’m afraid with Ed at the helm, you will find ex cons and ex lib dems will rather not vote or turn to a so called protest vote than support Labour. Policies are not enough when there is history and current constituent dissatisfaction to contend with in todays climate.

        I’m not sure if this is the forum, if it has already been discussed or has died on its feet, however would having an option to vote for ‘None of the Above’ be a valid solution to increasing the vote count by giving all a voice. I feel constrained when I have to make a decision with no viable candidates. Having an option to vote for none should, through a majority of the vote, prove that our current political constitution is flawed and needs to be completely changed. The country does not need to be static during this period of metamorphosis, the current ruling party can stay or the party with the most votes could come in for the interim.

        Our world has changed so much through technology that a completely new structure could be formed, embracing this change and can bring inclusion to every single constituent. Let’s be innovators rather than laggards. Iceland have certainly managed it so why can’t we. It could even end with our country regaining its competitive advantage and attractiveness for businesses and immigration rather than the current status quo. Desperate times call for desperate measures and I trust the voice of the carpenter, full time parent and programmer over a politician who lives in fear of unemployment if they say the wrong thing to wrong ears.


      • 114 year Workers’ Rights Scrapped by Coalition Government

        When Liberalism fails?
        Something many are asking
        In the old new world too
        Conservative means serfdom again
        What is left to the left
        Move over all yea Conservatives
        Socialist are moving in again
        Politely of course – so scoot


    • Trying to reclaim our party for the people again, that’s what so many grassroots Labour members are working for.. I was delighted to see a woman, and a social worker, (now that is a proper job!), a local person too elected in South Shields, and hope to see more of that.


  6. How much more damage is this government going to do before the end of its term!!!!!!!!?????? They need to get out now!


  7. These poblems bought about by the lack of a good Trade union movement. The days are gone when real trade unionist stood up for the workers and were prepared to go to jail. If it is a bad lawe must oppose it. If it had not been for early Trade Unionist we would have we would not have had good working conditions which have been eroded the the governments of this modern era.


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  13. What we should all be aware of is this Axis of Evil coalitions attempt to divide and conquer the non-privileged of this country. The evil-doers have learned the lesson of the Bush government, which was, it doesn’t matter how many lies you tell the the people, some will see through them but there will be a lot who will be convinced and those who are easily taken in will then do their best to convince others. I know this to be a fact because every day I argue with people, mostly about welfare cuts, and the worst who believe the b######it are pensioners, the very people who should know better. The problem with them is they no longer have to worry about most welfare cuts, it’s a matter of I’m alright Jack. Some of them are actually in favour of the bedroom tax, and these are people who have lived all their lives in, and are still living in Local Authority housing.
    Labour need to wise up to this epidemic and start to win back the grass roots support it has taken for granted for years. It needs to state as loud as possible that it will be reversing the welfare cuts to give back the recipients of any welfare payments their dignity and remove the fear of hate crimes this axis of evil coalition has instigated against them.

    The Labour Party has more ammunition to throw at this coalition than any previous government I have ever known, why then are they not reminding the people of all the cock-ups and u-turns, why are they not on huge billboards all over the country. It is the only way, because the Press is owned by Tory sympathisers and the BBC is influenced by the Tories, so how else are we going to get the message across that they haven’t forgot the heartlands and the hardcore voters that are the only chance of the Labour Party getting back into power.


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