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Public sector workers back mass strike over pensions. Up to 750,000 public sector workers will hold a co-ordinated strike later this month after members of a third major union backed industrial action. The TUC and Unison are likely to hold ballots and expect it to become a major dispute with long term industrial action accross our public services.

The strikes are in protest at proposed changes to public sector pensions. Dave Prentis of Unison said there had been hardly any real progress and he thought his members would vote for strike action if a ballot was called

In order to try to reduce the rising cost of public sector pensions, the government is seeking a 3% increase in employee pension contributions, which amounts to a doubling for many public sector staff.

Unions say that plans under discussion also include reducing pension benefits and expecting staff to work for longer.

But the government said public sector workers would continue to get a guaranteed pension level – something, it said, “very few private sector employers still offer”.

More from the BBC.

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This is the first UK libel case arising out of Tweeting.  Employers need to be careful when employees use social media at home or at work. Whether you require staff to promote your business through Twitter or make new contacts on Linkedin, it is vital to put a social media policy in place first as this UK libel action is likely to be the first of many as witnessed by the US in recent years.

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Ken Clarke, the Justice Secretary, has said that he will slash the Legal Aid bill by more than a third. As a result lawyers fear they will lose out on tribunal fees and that their most vulnerable clients will lose out on access to justice ~ and they are probably right to be concerned.

Of course, the immediate winners will be the employers who can rest a little easier knowing that it will be much more expensive for an employee to pursue an unfair dismissal claim.

However, that isn’t the full story because workplace disputes won’t simply evaporate, they will move to another venue. The cut and thrust of the tribunal will give way to the diplomacy of mediation meetings and I expect lawyers will catch on pretty quickly and give their mediation skills and experience higher billing than has traditionally been the case.

Here is the interview with KC on Radio 4.

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It looks as though the Coalition government will give charities the opportunity to do business with the public sector by cutting the red tape involved in taking over public sector contracts and their staff. TUPE currently prevents the new employer from making changes to pay and conditions (subject to exceptions) and argubly makes it unprofitable to take over these service contracts.  David Cameron’s vision for recovery is heavily dependent on a commerically astute third sector and this will be a practical move towards making the Big Society a reality sooner rather than later. More from FT. Coalition will review Tupe regulations – Third Sector.

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British Airways cave under strike pressure  UPDATE: BAA Doubled Pay Offer To Avoid Shutdown At 6 Airports – WSJ.com.

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The government has announced that it proposes to abolish the rule which allows employers to dismiss employees at age 65. The proposal is that the change will be phased in between 6th April 2011 and 1st October 2011. Notices given before 6th April 2011 requiring employees to retire on reaching age 65 before 1st October 2011 will operate under current rules.

Once the rules have been changed employers wishing to impose a compulsory retirement age will still be able to do so if ONLY IF they can objectively justify it as “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.  If they dismiss an employee at 65 purely on grounds of their age and they fail to objectively justify the decision they will be likely to face claims of both unlawful age discrimination and unfair dismissal.

The consultation paper points out that “ it is not easy to demonstrate that a retirement age is objectively justified, so the employer should be confident that it can be objectively justified before deciding to use a retirement age”.

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One by one, the quangos are abolished. But at what cost? – UK Politics, UK – The Independent.

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A recent report explained how council employees left a part of the white line  unpainted due to finding a dead badger in the road. Can you imagine the conversation they had before agreeing that they should leave it?  At least they didn’t paint round it! 

Anyway, for several reasons this ‘badger’ theme reminded me of an article I wrote 3 years ago after watching Ruth Badger put a rocket up a sales team during the television series, “Badger or Bust” and it could help you improve sales performance too. (more…)

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 I blame Simon Cowell, says ‘humiliated’ hopeful – TV & Radio, Media – The Independent. Britain’s Got Talent singer sues Simon Cowell Emma Amelia Pearl Czikai lodged a disability discrimination claim against the show’s creator and star, Simon Cowell, his production company Syco, and Freemantle Media. Ms Czikai suffers from cervical spine neuritis, which causes severe neck pain and headaches.

She claims that the producers knew about her condition, but discriminated against her and has accused the show and its judges of ‘exploitation, humiliation, degradation and barbarism’.

Obviously not underestimating her talent, Ms Czikai said she was seeking £300,000 for injured feelings, compensation of £1m and loss of earnings of £1.25m.

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In October 2010 the Equality Act will make it unlawful to ask job applicants about their health. The thinking behind this move is that employers are discriminating at application stage against applicants with mental health issues and other disabilities. 

I personally find this unhelpful because if interview panels cannot ask applicants about their disabilities how are reputable employers supposed to help applicants overcome them in the work environment!  Companies urged to review applicant health questionnaires – Telegraph. ELE will shortly produce a pre-employment application pro forma to assist ELE members with this process. We will notify members when it is issued.

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