Government plans to curtail workers' rights

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Indy Politics

The strongest hint yet that the Government intends to rewrite Britain's employment laws to make it easier for businesses to hire and fire workers will be delivered today by David Cameron.

In a speech to business leaders the Prime Minister will argue that the only way to deliver growth is to cut regulation and make it more worthwhile for companies to invest in Britain.

His remarks will lead to concern that hard-won workers' rights may be downgraded and controversial proposals to make it more difficult for employees to sue their employers for unfair dismissal are still being considered.

Today Mr Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander will sit down to finalise the Coalition's economic growth plan which is due to be published at the end of this month.

Mr Osborne is pushing for significant moves on deregulation which the Conservatives believe is the key to getting the economy going again. But the Liberal Democrats fear that tough measures on employment law would prove politically toxic and undermine their key message that their party is the conscience of the Coalition.

Highlighting this divide yesterday Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, said the case for reforming Britain's strike laws would become "very pressing" if public-sector workers pushed ahead with industrial action later this month.

He added that business leaders had made a "powerful case" to government calling for a minimum 40 per cent turnout on strike ballots before they are deemed legal. In his speech to the Confederation of British Industry, Mr Cameron is expected to say that just dealing with Britain's deficit is not enough. "If we are to build a new model of growth, we need to give a massive boost to enterprise, entrepreneurship and business creation.

"People who ask: 'What do radical deregulation and reforming employment law have to do with the immediate priority of getting growth?' miss the point. The answer is simple: If we want a new economy and a new type of growth we have to act to make it possible."

One of the areas where the Government is being urged to act is on pensions, by delaying plans to make employers legally obliged to enrol all workers into company pension schemes.