Letters

first_img Comments are closed. LettersOn 17 Jun 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. This week’s letters‘Equality’ should mean exactly thatI was completely unsurprised by the views expressed (Letters, 3 June) fromHeather Falconer attacking Stephen Overell’s ‘Off message’ (13 May) on workingmothers. Having read Mr Overell’s piece, I thought his message was fairlystraightforward; that working women who choose to leave and have children areunfairly subsidised by their colleagues and cause serious problems foremployers that need to be addressed. Perhaps Ms Falconer is right and the EOC should be apologising for itsenforcement of the Sex Discrimination Act over the last 30 years. After all,can anyone tell me any piece of legislation that advantages men over women, letalone such a project the EOC has supported in the last 30 years? Mothers havematernity rights, but fathers have nowhere near the same level of entitlement.Yet we see no challenge from the EOC. The Sex Discrimination Act was introduced to combat the perceiveddiscrimination against women, and the new part-time workers’ rights apply in asector that is predominantly female. Yet, the Bentley & Rutherford ruling,which gave employment rights to over-65s – a predominantly male sector – isbeing challenged by the DTI and, once again, the ‘impartial’ EOC is remarkablysilent on the matter. The notion that maternity rights are an employment matter beggars belief.The current system is discriminatory, disadvantages both men andnon-pregnant/childless women, places enormous burdens on employers (and fellowemployees) and maintains artificially high levels of unemployment. In terms of competitiveness, morale and skills wastage, the currentmaternity rights regimen is absolute lunacy. We must remember that the feministagenda which drove maternity rights forward has made gender a political issueand follows the mantra: ‘Make the personal political’. Ms Falconer is correct in that some women do have skills, experience,aptitudes and education that our economy cannot afford to lose. Yet, we do lose them from the economy for significant amounts of time. Andsometimes they never return. How up-to-date are their skills and aptitudesafter time out of the workplace? Patricia Hewitt’s recent campaign to attract about 50,000 female sciencegraduates back into the workforce highlights the drop-out rate. Ms Falconer’s views, like mine (I admit it!), are less than impartial. Whyis Ms Falconer defending a maternity rights system that is in obvious need ofreform? For the last three and a half decades, we have seen a huge raft offeminist-motivated legislation and workplace policies that have allowed womento enter, survive and flourish in the workplace to the disadvantage of theirmale colleagues. There is an entire section on the DTI website called ‘women and equality’,which advocates strategies for ‘promoting women in the workplace’. Note: thereis no ‘men and equality’ section. Are women not capable of promoting themselvesin the workplace by their ‘education, skills, aptitudes, experience andmerits’? I would agree with Ms Falconer that the business case for ‘equality’ isproven. However, I suspect her definition of ‘equality’ and my own are somewhatdifferent. A definition that advantages one gender over the other is not‘equality’. John Spartan Head of HR, JBMS Spot the irony…Was I the only person to see the irony in the irony pointed out by MrKingsley (Letters, 3 June)? I appreciate that Mr Kingsley is probably not singularly responsible forthis, but he criticises the use of the term ‘human capital’ (which at leastoffends everyone equally across a diverse workforce) when writing as arepresentative of an organisation called Manpower. Such a name could be viewed by half the population as ‘degrading’…Jane Bralsford Job title and company withheld Rights for temps will not hurt UK economyThere is no evidence to back up the argument that equal pay and basic rightsfor temporary workers would cost jobs and damage the UK’s economiccompetitiveness and flexibility (Editorial comment, 3 June). Unfortunately, thecompletely unfounded claim scuppered the EU Agency Workers Directive. It is ludicrous to suggest the UK owes its current economic position to arelatively small number of low paid and unprotected agency workers. Temp workhas fallen in the UK, while employment has grown and most temps are on fixed-termcontracts with equal pay and rights to permanent staff. Employers themselvessay they use temps in busy periods and to cover absence, not to cut costs. It is unfair and does not make good business sense to treat agency workersdifferently to other temporary staff. Any qualifying period attached to thedirective would simply enable the cowboy agencies to continue to undercut thosewho currently offer decent pay and protection. Providing better protection will make agency working more attractive to awider group of workers, giving employers with high quality, more choice andgreater flexibility. Brendan Barber General secretary, TUC last_img

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