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Professor Keith Ewing on Beecroft Report Page 2/3

‘A Future that works’ TUC calls for Mass Demonstration on 20 October 2012 Page 1

London Bus Workers Dispute Page 1/3 RMT London Tube Cleaners walk out Page 3

UNISON Facility Time Report Page 3 GMB Report on Blacklisting Page 4

United Campaign UPDATE

FOR TRADE UNION FREEDOM

Issue 22 SUMMER 2012 FREE

Tuc calls for mass Demonstration on 20 october 2012 The TUC is to organise a mass demonstration in London under the banner of ‘A Future That Works’ on Saturday 20 October 2012. A march through central London will culminate in a rally in Hyde Park.

‘It is becoming ever clearer that this government does not have the policies - or even much of a commitment to build a prosperous economy that can generate the jobs and industries that we need for the future.

On March 26 2011 the TUC’s March for the Alternative attracted ‘Rather than bold policies for 5000,000 people to a march and investment and growth, the best that rally in London minister can do is half-baked proposals to make it easier to sack TUC General Secretary Brendan people. Barber said ‘The tide is turning ‘That is why we expect a huge turnout against austerity. We were told that spending cuts were needed to from the growing numbers that want a get the economy growing, yet they future that works. With the USA and France now setting out the alternative, have driven the UK back into it’s time the UK also changed course. recession. We were told that we were all in together, yet Mr Cameron’s main purpose at the G8 “The United Campaign believes that “A Future that Works” involves better summit seemed to be protecting Collective Rights and Trade Union the banks against the growing Freedom.” international support for a Robin Hood tax - and the last Budget’s centrepiece was cutting the 50p tax rate.

D LCDTU THE FIRST JOINT UC AN FRINGE AT TUC

A FUTURE THAT WORKS NEEDS TRADE UNION FREEDOMS & COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Members of Unite took a vote on compensation for working shifts in the capital during the Olympic games. London bus workers were urged to accept a peace deal that stopped the threat of a bus strike during the Olympics, after Unite secured an offer from bus operators. Members of the union, in June, staged the first capital-wide bus strike since the 1980s, and threatened another stoppage on 24 July, just days before the Olympics opening ceremony, in a row over bonus payments for working during the Olympic Games. Continued on Page 3...

include: Speakers Frances O’Grady, TUC Bob Crow, RMT/UC John Hendy QC, IER/UC Dave Smith, Secretarty, Blacklist Support Group

Monday 1 0th Septembe r 2012

At 12.30 Refereshments available (first come, first served!) At Umi Hotel, Brighton, 1 min ute from the Con ference Centr e


Issue 22

SUMMER 2012

FOR TRADE UNION FREEDOM

On Beecroft report "hastily Drafted, ill-thought out and Weakly reasoned" “

Even the limited rights of British workers are too much for the Tories and very rich Tory donors such as Adrian Beecroft, the payday loan merchant who now advises Cameron on how to sack workers. On the eve of the general election in 1997 Tony Blair famously said that Britain was the most lightly regulated labour market in Europe, and that under New Labour it would stay that way. He kept his word.

But even the limited rights of British workers are too much for the Tories and very rich Tory donors such as Adrian Beecroft, the businessman who now advises Cameron on how to sack workers. It is of course the case that the government has already cut back on workers’ rights not to be unfairly dismissed, with the recent increase in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal. This means that workers will have to be employed for two years before they can bring a claim, a requirement that many labour lawyers feel will not survive legal challenge on the ground of its potential to discriminate against women. But that is by no means the end of it. Important procedural changes to the unfair dismissal system mean that workers who bring a claim will have to pay to use the tribunal - an unconscionable attack on the right of access to justice. But Beecroft wants to take us further, and with the leak earlier in the summer of his unexpurgated Report on Employment Law we now know just how far he was prepared to go. Unfair dismissal

would be removed from every worker, to be replaced the employer’s right to no fault dismissal.

This means that workers can be sacked for any reason or no reason. If the employer no longer likes the cut of your jib, it would be ‘thank you good night and goodbye’. Provided the employer paid the equivalent of a modest redundancy payment, there would be no comeback. In making proposals to roll back employment rights to the 19th century, Beecroft accepted that ‘some people would be dismissed simply because their employer did not like them’. But while this was ‘sad’, it was ‘a price worth paying’, a phrase we have heard from other Tories.

But the Beecroft Report is not only about unfair dismissal. Its 24 pages of ideological poison include many other threats that have avoided media discussion, including proposals on discrimination law, parental leave, and flexible working. A matter of particular concern is the proposal to reduce the redundancy consultation period, again to make it easier to sack workers. Under the present law, employers must consult at least 90 days before dismissals in the case of mass redundancies of more than 100 people. The plan to reduce 90 days to 30 days is very cynical and would have the effect that no meaningful consultations would take place. Quite simply there would not be enough time for unions to engage in meaningful consultations or to offer alternatives to dismissal.

This means that workers can be sacked for any reason or no reason. If the employer no longer likes the cut of your jib, it would be ‘th ank you, good night an d goodbye

Feature: PROFESSOR KEITH EWING ON THE BEECROFT REPORT

Professor KEITH EWING

It is all the more cynical for the fact that apart from allowing employers to invoke mass sackings after only 30 days’ consultation, it will also allow them to impose changes to workers’ contracts effectively by giving only 30 days’ notice under the so-called ‘s 188 procedure’. The latter is a really important proposal, overlooked in much of the press comment. But again it reveals the stupidity and superficiality of what is being proposed. In my view, it would not be possible to move to a fixed 30 day consultation period, and any attempt to do so would be illegal. This is because the statutory collective redundancy procedure is based on EU law and any changes to the procedure must be consistent with the requirements of EU law, which requires employers planning redundancies to inform ‘in good time with a view to reaching an agreement’. Under the present law, the 90 day consultation period in the case of redundancies of more than 100 workers is likely to meet this obligation. True, it is arbitrary. But it has the virtue of certainty. Everyone knows where they stand. It helps both employers and unions. If in a fit of ideological stupidity the 90 day period is removed and replaced as Beecroft proposes with 30 days’ consultation with trade unions, this will be as much a disaster for employers as it will


Issue 22

Summer 2012

This is because a 30 day consultation period is too short and will not be consistent with EU law. In every collective redundancy employers will be in a legal ‘no man’s land’, required to consult ‘in good time’, but not knowing what that means on a case-by-case basis. What will thus happen is that unions will rightly challenge every collective redundancy in the employment tribunals on the ground of shortage of notice, until eventually the matter ends up in the European Court of Justice and until the government is required to change the law back to where it is at the moment. What the redundancy consultation procedure proposals reveal is a hastily drafted, ill – thought out, and weakly reasoned set of proposals, failing fully to anticipate the consequences of what is being proposed, and failing also to engage with the inconvenient demands of EU law. That such far – reaching proposals could be explained, justified and defended in only five lines is extraordinary. But so too was the failure of Tony Blair’s New Labour government to ensure that British workers had stronger rights to deal with the assaults they now face. Keith Ewing Keith Ewing is President of the Institute of Employment Rights Aiden Beecroft pictured below, is chairman of Dawn Capital, the firm that has a large stock in Wonga.com, which offers hard-up individuals highinterest same day loans.

Feature: professor keith ewing on the beecroft report

be nasty for workers faced with the risk of redundancy and cuts.

FOR TRADE UNION FREEDOM

UNISON HAS PUBLISHED A NEW REPORT: THE VALUE OF TRADE UNION FACILITY TIME New report shows huge value of facility time Facility time for trade union reps in the public sector saves the taxpayer money, cuts the number of strikes and disputes and improves workplace relations – these are some of the key findings of a new independent report by NatCen Social Research for UNISON. The report found that facility time creates a structure for consultation and negotiation helping workers to feel that their voices will be heard when decisions are made. Trade union reps are instrumental to managing change – especially important given the upheaval currently hitting the public sector. The report, based on evidence gathered from both employers and trade union reps through focus group sessions and 129 written submissions, also contains real-life examples of how trade unions have worked with employers to help public sector bodies through organisational change. Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said: “Trade union reps are a huge boost to our workplaces. They help to create more efficient workplaces, they cut the number of disputes, and by making people feel like their voices are being heard, they can help manage change. This adds up to saving the taxpayer a fortune. “Given the huge scale of the cuts hitting the public sector, the role of workplace Continued from page 1... The union had been demanding a bonus of £500 per employee, in line with payments for staff at other public transport services such as the Underground and the Docklands Light Railway. An offer was made following days of talks between Unite and privately owned bus operators under the auspices of the conciliation service, Acas.

reps in our public services is more important than ever before. Attacking reps – who already give 100,000 hours of extra work outside of their facility time doesn’t make sense and will only cost the taxpayer money in the long run.” The key benefits that facility time bring to public sector workplaces include: - Creating a ready-made structure for consultation and negotiation, saving organisations money and giving workers reassurance that their views will be heard when decisions are made. - Allowing partnership working with trade unions to improve workplace relations, helping to create the reputation of an employer as ‘a good place to work’. - Earlier intervention in relation to complaints, grievances and disciplinaries, helping to stop issues escalating, which saves organisations and ultimately taxpayers’ money. - Better communication to manage change during restructuring and redundancy processes; thereby improving understanding of decisions, minimising negative impacts and reducing the number of working days lost through industrial action. A blog explaining the report and its findings is here: http://goo.gl/3vL79 The full report is here: http://goo.gl/2eHLX

Picket lines went up at the Olympic venue in Stratford and elsewhere as London's underpaid tube cleaners walked off the job As RMT General Secretary Bob Crow says:

Unite's regional secretary, Peter "With the eyes of the world on the London Kavanagh, said: "Following a LondonOlympics the many millions enjoying the wide strike and days of intensive events around the globe must not forget negotiations, we now have an offer which the London transport cleaners on minimum Unite is recommending to London's bus pay rates doing some of the dirtiest jobs in workers. "By standing together, London's often appalling conditions with no Olympics bus workers got 20 London bus operators recognition and reward whatsoever. "The around a single negotiating table. We Olympics has to be about equality, believe the offer is a fair one that inclusiveness and social justice and that's recognises the work bus workers will be what our cleaners are standing up for as the doing to keep London moving during the spotlight shines on London”. Olympics."


Issue 22

Summer 2012

FOR TRADE UNION FREEDOM

Gmb REPORT IDENTIFIES 224 VICTIMS OF CARILLION 'BLACKLISTING' ACROSS UK Campaigners have welcomed the GMB report, which it says ‘pulls back the curtain of secrecy’ on blacklisting.

GMB says blacklisting is 'construction industry's equivalent of phone hacking scandal', after report identifies blacklisting 'hotspots' on Merseyside and in the southeast.

The Blacklist Support Group says Carillion should be removed from any approved contractors list for publiclyfunded projects in future.

The GMB has released a report detailing more than 220 people who it says have been blacklisted by the construction and services giant, Carillion for being ‘union troublemakers’.

The 17-page document describes ‘spies’ being sent into meetings of trade union members in the construction industry and reports held on files of individuals described as ‘extreme troublemaker’, ‘politically motivated’, ‘active in dispute’, and having ‘gone from being a normal, good electrician to being squarely in the [union] camp.’

It says the practice has been concentrated in London and the south-east and around Merseyside (map, pictured).

The report lists more than 40 companies, including household name employers such as Amec, Costain UK and Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, which are known to have used the Consulting Association blacklist. The Information Commissioner has confirmed that 224 construction workers from

“The report shows that the level of wrong doing and abuse around this blacklisting is the construction industry’s equivalent of phone hacking by newspapers and is equally serious. “For far too long, vested

GMB SAYS BLACKLISTING IS interests have sought to ignore 'CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY'S these discriminatory activities by EQUIVALENT OF PHONE HACKING Carillion and others. SCANDAL' AFTER REPORT “GMB will campaign to expose IDENTIFIES BLACKLISING 'HOTSPOTS' these activities. GMB will call on ON MERSEYSIDE ANd IN THE SOUTH-EASTpoliticians to bring social justice around the UK were victims of blacklisting by Carillion.

to the victims of blacklisting by these companies.”

The names emerged in the course of an Employment Tribunal earlier this year when Carillion was accused of blacklisting a construction worker in London, Dave Smith.

An inquiry by the Scottish Affairs Committee of MP’s into blacklisting is expected to hear further details today (12th June 2012)of a number of companies involved in blacklisting of trade union activities in the construction industry.

In the March 2012 judgment in the Employment Tribunal on Carillion’s blacklisting of Dave Smith, the judge said: “It seems to us that he has suffered a genuine injustice and we greatly regret that the law provides him with no remedy”. Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary said, “This GMB report pulls back the curtain of secrecy to give a glimpse on how employers like Carillion have illegally used their power and money to blacklist citizens and to deny them their rights to employment.

Says Paul Kenny: “Carillion and others should apologise and compensate victims who have fallen foul of their illegal activities.” www.gmb.org.uk/newsroom/ latest.../british_gas_gmb_carillion

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Summer 2012 Newsletter