Shameless Theresa May has ruled out installing worker representatives on company boards, just four months after her pledge to do so.
The Prime Minister, who after her appointment as Tory leader in July promised to ensure that it would be “not just consumers represented on company boards but workers as well”, made the U-turn on staff board members during a speech to industry bosses at the CBI conference yesterday.
“While it is important that the voices of workers and consumers should be represented, I can categorically tell you that this is not about mandating works councils or the direct appointment of workers or trade union representatives on boards,” the Prime Minister said.
“Some companies may find that these models work best for them, but there are other routes that use existing board structures, complemented or supplemented by advisory councils or panels, to ensure all those with a stake in the company are properly represented.”
May also ruled out “German style” binary boards but insisted there would be a “genuine consultation” on grossly inflated executive pay and making employees’ voices “heard in the boardroom.”
Research shows that workers’ board representatives have a positive effect not just for employees but for the overall performance of businesses as well. In Europe, workers are represented on boards in 19 countries, including Holland, Sweden, France and Austria.
Previously the TUC had hailed May’s promise to put workers on boards as “a good first step towards a fairer democracy.”
Yesterday, however, congress accused the Prime Minister of back-pedalling.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said, “Theresa May made a clear promise to have workers represented on company boards. The proposals in her speech today do not deliver on this.
“This is not the way to show that you want to govern for ordinary working people.”
Unite assistant general secretary, Steve Turner, said the U-turn was further proof that the Tories cannot be trusted to keep their word.
He said, “It hasn’t even been six months and Theresa May is already rowing back on the only one of her policies that could be considered truly progressive.
“This is another demonstration of the disregard the Conservatives have for working people. Their kind words and false promises cannot hide the fact that the Tories are only interested in serving the needs of those at the top.”