TRADE UNION REFORM CAMPAIGN ‘TRUE FACE OF THE TORY PARTY’ – says Unite

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Section of the 500,000-strong TUC demonstration on March 26 last year against the coalition cuts
Section of the 500,000-strong TUC demonstration on March 26 last year against the coalition cuts

THE Trade Union Reform Campaign (TURC) is a vehicle for discredited Tories to pursue an ultra-right wing agenda, but it is the true face of the Tory party, warns Unite.

TURC held a re-launch yesterday evening at the House of Commons. TURC’s sole aim is to attack trade union rights and undermine workers’ access to justice in the workplace.

The campaign’s chairman is none other than the disgraced MP Aidan Burley who was sacked for attending a Nazi themed stag party in France last year, he is under investigation by the French police.

Its CEO is Mark Clarke, who failed to win a seat in the 2010 general election, he has been described by senior Tories close to David Cameron, as a ‘liability’.

The third person in the TURC is Andre Walker who had to resign his post when he was caught boasting about a smear campaign.

The former defence secretary, Liam Fox, who was forced to resign in disgrace over his relationship with Adam Werrity, will sit on TURC’s parliamentary council.

Also on TURC’s parliamentary council is Tory MP, Dominic Raab, who in January last year hit out against feminists, branding them ‘obnoxious bigots’ whose actions have led to men suffering discrimination ‘from the cradle to the grave’.

TURC also has close links with the Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF) which is an ultra right wing group which tries to promote conservatism in schools, colleges and universities. The organisation has described the NHS as the biggest waste of money in the UK.

Priti Patel MP, a significant supporter of TURC, has produced joint research for the group and has publicly supported the use of the death penalty in the UK.

The organisation is campaigning to ban employer funded trade union representatives in the public sector and to remove government funding to help improve employees’ access to learning and education and funding for improving employee relations.

Unite points to findings from the Department for Business itself which shows that the work of union representatives actually saves employers around £1.1 billion annually by helping to resolve disputes and preventing illness and injury at work.

Unite general secretary, Len McCLuskey, said: ‘The TURC is a rogues’ gallery, full of discredited Tories and unpalatable right wing views. When you take off the mask of compassionate conservatism, what you get is TURC – the true face of the Tories.

‘The group’s sole aim is to undermine ordinary workers’ access to justice and support in the workplace.

‘This anti-union group even has strong links with the Young Britons Foundation which describes the life saving NHS as a waste of money.

‘There is no rational reason to target dedicated men and women who spend their days preventing accidents, avoiding tribunals and supporting their colleagues. Union representatives benefit workplaces to the tune of £1.1 billion every year. Only the ideologically-driven cannot accept that these arrangements benefit staff and employers alike.’

These disgraced right wing MPs are using flawed research to launch an ideological attack on trade union representatives, the Public and Commercial Services union said.

New analysis published by the Trades Union Congress shows that for every £1 spent on having union reps in public sector workplaces, up to £9 is returned in benefits to the wider economy.

This ‘facility time’ – used by reps to negotiate terms and conditions for workers, help ensure workplaces are healthy and safe, and assist staff with training and development – is highly-valued by employers.

The TUC report also shows failings in figures relied on by the Trade Union Reform Campaign.

Far from costing taxpayers money, the report ‘Facility time for union reps: separating fact from fiction’ says that reps could be worth between £267 million and £701 million a year to the economy.

Benefits arise through: lower staff turnover; fewer workplace-related injuries and sickness; and fewer employment tribunals.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘Our reps work incredibly hard on behalf of our members, often in their own time and for no personal reward other than to help their colleagues and their employer, and I am proud of every one of them.

‘The truth is that, if they got their way, these discredited MPs leading a purely politically motivated campaign would damage our economy to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds a year.’

• An MP has written to employment minister Chris Grayling to call for the reinstatement of a well-respected jobs adviser who was sacked by a government contractor after speaking out about union concerns over help for the unemployed.

John McDonnell MP has taken up the case of John Brookes on behalf of the Public and Commercial Services union.

The PCS rep from Teesside, who is known and respected in the region for his work with the unemployed, was dismissed by contractor Triage after speaking to the media about how help for people out of work would suffer as a result of cuts.

Triage took over contracts in the north east last year when they were re-let under the government’s new ‘work programme’.

John Brookes, who had worked in this field for 36 years with an unblemished record, was joined by representatives of the union outside the Triage offices in Middlesbrough on Monday as the campaign for his reinstatement was stepped up.

The union has serious concerns about the work programme and the government’s wider plans to change the welfare system, and says ministers should be creating jobs and opportunities, not throwing more people out of work and cutting welfare entitlements.

McDonnell’s letter stated: ‘Whilst DWP is not the employer in this matter, as the contract awarding body, government clearly has a responsibility in how taxpayers’ money is spent and an interest in ensuring that those delivering the work programme act with probity and fairness. This dedicated public servant’s only crime has been to bring into the public domain legitimate concerns about this important government scheme.’

Last week official figures showed unemployment rose again to 2.68 million in the three months to November.

The current unemployment rate of 8.4% is the highest since January 1996. The number of young people without a job rose to 1.043 million, meaning 22% of 16-24 year-olds are out of work.

PCS general secretary Serwotka said: ‘Ministers should be creating jobs instead of cutting them, and investing in our communities instead of vilifying those who find themselves out of work.

‘We do not believe the work programme is a serious attempt to tackle unemployment, we think it is a cynical ploy to force people into menial jobs and work experience, with no promise of stable employment at the end.

‘People like John Brookes with years of dedicated public service and knowledge, should be praised, not sacked, for speaking out about our genuine concerns about the treatment of those out of work. We are calling for his immediate reinstatement.’