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Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has called for a new body to be set up to protect workers from abuse and exploitation by bosses. In the past two years, Scottish citizens advice bureaux have handled 107,000 cases where people claimed to have been treated unfairly at work. CAS said it feared that could be the tip of the iceberg.

The Fair Employment report said one of the "key features" of the recession had been that "many employers retained staff on less generous terms and conditions rather than making large numbers of employees redundant". While it said this was "usually preferable" to redundancy, it claimed cutting workers' hours and wages could have a significant impact. The report stated: "As a result of the fragmented enforcement regime, our evidence shows that many employees are unable to raise and resolve poor practices that they experience at work. This leaves some employers free to continue inadequate and sometimes illegal employment practices."

CAS head of policy Susan McPhee said "It is time for the government to give exploited workers somewhere to turn, through the creation of a Fair Employment Commission with the legal powers and resources both to secure individual vulnerable workers their rights, and to root out the rogues. As a society we might have hoped that workplace exploitation was a thing of the distant past. Sadly, this report shows that many Scots are still being treated unfairly. Examples include illegal changes to contracts, unfair dismissal, low pay, withheld wages and victimisation of those who have tried to demand their rights."

Such good intentions but the government is the executive committee of the capitalist class and represents their interests, not the workers. A few cosmetic changes may be possible but the balance of power will always favour the employer.


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