Issue date
31 May 2012

date: 30 May 2012

embargo: 09.00hrs Thursday 31 May 2012

More than three million people working in small companies with fewer than 10 staff, or one in five of the north east's working population will be turned into second-class citizens if government supporters of the Beecroft report get their way, according to TUC analysis published today (Thursday) as unions launch the Employee Rights Stop Employment Wrongs campaign.

Northern TUC Regional Secretary, Kevin Rowan said: 'Beecroft's Dickensian proposals are yet another low-blow for those who have managed to hold on to their jobs - so far - in such precarious economic circumstances. Our national campaign, launched today, is about moving forward, not backwards, and making one in five of our region's workers second-class citizens.

'It is complete anathema to propose equal pay, pensions, child labour laws, flexible parental leave and gangmaster licensing should ever be 'optional', regardless of the size of the employer. I urge everyone to support the TUC campaign and enlighten Lord Beecroft as to the detrimental and damaging nature of his suggestions for employers, employees and the economy as a whole. You don't increase the quantity of employment by reducing the quality of employment rights.'

Launching the campaign at a photo opportunity featuring a backwards clock face and Victorian-dressed workers, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

'Companies of all sizes need to contribute to economic growth. Restricting the talent pool for small firms will not help them grow. The very many good employers in small firms who have no interest in treating their staff badly will suffer unfairly but just as much as the minority of bad bosses from being seen as second-class, second-rate employers.

'That is why we launch this major campaign today. Cutting rights will not boost growth. Indeed 'it is likely to have the unintended consequence of destabilising consumer confidence at a very difficult time'. Not my words, but those of Norman Lamb, the new employment relations minister. We will 'confront the old-fashioned negative thinking which says that all government needs to do to generate growth is cut worker and environmental protections, cut taxes on the rich and stroke 'fat cats' until they purr with pleasure'. Again not union rhetoric, but Vince Cable's words.

'Our message today is don't turn the clock back on workplace rights. This is a campaign we can win.'


- Regional breakdown of workers in companies employing fewer than 10 staff


Number of workers

North East




Source: Figures for small firm employment are taken from the Business Population Estimates The regional breakdown in these statistics includes some self-employed people. The more comprehensive national figures show that across the UK this figure is 15 per cent. The TUC has therefore reduced each regional numbers by 15 per cent to produce a regional estimate of small firm employees.

- Extract from Beecroft report (12 October 2011 version): 'To resolve the problem of the burden of regulation on small businesses I propose that businesses employing less than 10 people should be allowed to opt out of some or all of the following current and proposed regulations with regard to new employees (but not existing ones): unfair dismissal, pension auto-enrolment, right to request flexible working (other than for parents and carers, which is required by a European Directive), flexible parental leave, licensing for employers of children, gangmaster licensing and equal pay audits.'

- Today (Thursday) TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber will pose with a six foot clock with a backwards face and workers in Victorian costume to launch the campaign. The photo op will take place at the junction of Roupell Street and Cornwall Road, near Waterloo Station: Photographs will be available from the press office from 10.30am.

- Brendan Barber is available for interviews - please contact the TUC press office.

- The campaign website is at

It includes a new video in which men from Beecroft's Rights Removals turn up and take away rights from a happy productive workforce to make them anxious and worried.

- Campaign materials include a series of advertisements that unions will run in their journals and a new magazine Rights and Wrongs which can be downloaded here

- All TUC press releases can be found at


Media enquiries:
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: [email protected]
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: [email protected]
Elly Gibson T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: [email protected]