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WORKERS should be appointed to company boards as part of a “genuinely different way” to run the economy, Labour’s Ed Miliband has urged.
The shadow business secretary pointed out that many of Britain’s neighbours, including France and Germany, have laws that require workers to be represented on the boards of all larger companies.
In his new book, Go Big: How To Fix Our World, the former Labour leader warned that the low levels of worker ownership in Britain are symptomatic of a wider problem with the way the economy is run and the limited role of staff in decision-making.
Of 28 European countries (the EU plus Britain), Britain ranks third from bottom in an index of worker participation, ahead of only Estonia and Latvia, Mr Miliband said.
He added: “The coronavirus pandemic brought this home. Two in five workers say they had concerns about their safety but did not feel able to raise them, and, of those who did bring them up, only one in five said they were fully resolved.
“As an MP, workers appeal to me to get the government to make their firms follow the rules. This is exactly the kind of function works councils fulfil, and indeed do in companies that have them.”
The TUC has long called for worker directors, voted for by colleagues, to represent staff on boards, with general secretary Frances O’Grady emphasising last week that workers are a “fundamental part” of any business.
“When their perspective is included, company boards have richer information and ideas, leading to better decisions,” she said.
Unions blasted the government for not committing to an improvement of workers’ rights in May’s Queen’s Speech, with an employment Bill, first promised in 2019, again being absent.
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