FOR TRADE UNION FREEDOM
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“It looks like it's time for action to turn the tide of governments and the EU carrying out the bosses bidding” Bob Crow United Campaign Chair, RMT General Secretary
Inside this issue: Lindsey Dispute 1 Highlights the Need For A Change in EU Law Workers’ Rights a key Issue in the Irish Referendum
Demonstrations to 1 be Held Across Europe in Support of Workers’ Rights New EDM Calling for Improved Conditions for Workers
The Employment Act 2008 - A Missed Opportunity to Redress the Balance
Become A 2 Campaign Supporter 2008-9
But we say a revision of the Posting of Workers' Directive will not be enough. After the ECJ decisions, attempts to strengthen workers' rights at the expense of those of businesses will at least require a "social progress protocol" called for by the ETUC. Meanwhile, in spite of the anti union laws in the UK, the recent protests have taken the form of 'wildcat strikes' or "unofficial" industrial action. "Secondary action" has been taken by construction workers from work places including on Humberside, in Yorkshire, South Wales, Sellafield in Cumbria, Fiddlers Ferry and Heysham in the North West of England and Grangemouth, Longannet and Cockenzie in Scotland. Polish workers also joined the action in sympathy, stopping work at Langage power station near Plymouth. Some 6,000 workers across over 20 construction sites at power stations and oil refineries took unofficial action as part of the dispute. At an official level, union leaders have done well to express understanding of the workers plight without crippling the
Lindsey Dispute Highlights the Need For A Change in EU Law Recent protests at the Lindsey Oil Terminal in Lincolnshire and elsewhere in Britain have led to calls from unions for EU laws to be changed after the European Court Judgments. Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary said: ‘These various judgments have distorted the original intention [of the Posting of Workers’ Directive] and we need to bring in fresh directives to make it absolutely clear that people cannot be undercut in this way.’
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unions coffers, which the anti union laws are designed to achieve. Workers protesting at the Lindsey Oil Refinery in Lincolnshire returned to work after management promised an additional 102 jobs would be made available to "British" workers previously earmarked for Italian and Portuguese workers at the plant. The unions have predicted that more protests would soon flare up at other sites over the issue. The issue concerned the exclusion of British workers for the convenience of the employers. The British National Party (BNP) attempted to exploit the issue for their own ends but were rightly chased off many of the picket lines.
Workers’ Rights a key Issue in the Irish Referendum Up until the December EU summit, in the Dáil Éireann, there seemed to be nothing about workers’ rights in relation to reasons why the people of Ireland voted against the EU treaty. The government and the European media only mentioned abortion, neutrality and the desire to keep a Commissioner for Ireland. But maybe the Irish unions did get through. Just after the EU summit, the Premier Brian Cowan said "the [European] Union agreed that our concerns be responded to satisfactorily, including through the use of legally binding guarantees. While the detail is yet to follow, our partners are clear about the (Continued on page 2)
Demonstrations to be Held Across Europe in Support of Workers’ Rights
© ETUC www.etuc.org The ETUC are to organise demonstrations throughout the EU to seek to establish the fundamental rights of all citizens to take action in the face of threats to their wages, families and pensions. The United Campaign supports this initiative and has been pushing for such action. Watch
our website and follow our efforts to publicise the ETUC’s plans. As the ETUC say on their website “Social Europe has five main characteristics” the first of which is “fundamental social rights, including freedom of association and the right to strike.” Without a real result to reverse the ECJ decisions, Social Europe is dead.
FOR TRADE UNION
New EDM Calling for Improved Conditions for Workers
United Campaign Action The United Campaign are looking at ways to progress the agenda that is so important to all working people and their families. In the next couple of months we’ll seek to bring together representatives of our affiliates to consider strategy in the light of unfolding events. We can seek to bring forward a Bill in parliament to focus on the legal challenge to promote fundamental collective rights.
Jon Cruddas MP has recently tabled Early Day Motion 677 ‘ Labour Standards, Employment and the EU’. The United Campaign are encouraging all of our supporters to write to their MP asking that they sign if they have not already done so.
Get Involved There will be a lot our supporters can do to help. We can prepare suggested motions for unions and supportive organisations to highlight the need for effective action. Check out our website and encourage your union branch to affiliate to the Campaign or ask us to address your meetings and provide further briefings.
The EDM already has 62 signatures. Check our website for a link to the EDM and more information on the ECJ cases and on European workers’ rights.
Irish ’No Vote’ Could Deliver Guarantee for Workers’ rights (Continued from page 1)
nature of those guarantees. The [European] Union also agreed on the need to confirm the importance of issues such as workers’ rights."
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For further information visit www.unitedcampaign.org.uk where you can also sign up to receive email alerts from the Campaign.
The Employment Act 2008 - A Missed Opportunity to Redress the Balance The Act was a very significant lost opportunity to address the failures of UK law to meet international human rights standards on collective and individual work place issues.
vote was forced and 45 Labour MPs voted for a key clause taken from the Trade Union Rights and Freedoms Bill. This led to Gordon Brown suffering his biggest rebellion in the Commons since taking office, although the amendment was not passed.
This would seem to present an opportunity across the EU to press for delivery of effective legally binding guarantees to confirm workers' rights, which confront the problems created by the 4 ECJ cases.
In October 2008, despite a widespread campaign from the United Campaign’s supporters and constant pressing from MPs, the Minister for Employment Relations, Pat McFadden, refused to offer even a consultation to address the weaknesses in the law. A
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Address: United Campaign, C/o 39 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD
Now the Act is in place, many unions may want to look to their rule books to take any advantage from the provisions in the Act in relation to expulsion of members of fascist parties.
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