THE TORY government is drawing up plans for new anti-union laws to ‘break the stranglehold of the trade unions’, The Sunday Telegraph newspaper disclosed yesterday, revealing that the teaching unions are to be a particular target.
It said that Downing Street is examining proposals to ‘bolster the rights of non-union members’ in the workplace as part of a bid to undermine trade unions.
The Tories are planning legislation to ‘enshrine the rights of employees to be accompanied to grievance and disciplinary meetings by an external lawyer or representative of a body other than a union’, said the report.
Currently, the law only requires employers, including schools, to allow staff to be joined by a trade union representative or colleague.
In December’s Queen’s Speech the Tories announced that they will introduce ‘minimum service requirements’ to seek to deny unions the power to organise effective all-out strike action.
Following the announcement, the RMT railway workers union described the move as the action of an ‘authoritarian regime’.
Yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph quoted a ‘Conservative source’ as saying: ‘The unions have a stranglehold on workers, particularly teachers.
‘We think all employees should be entitled to proper representation in disciplinary processes, not just those who have unionised.
‘Nobody should find themselves force to join one out of fear they will miss out on vital protections.’
The Tory move for new anti-union laws comes as the CWU postal workers union is next week launching a ballot of its entire membership for strike action.
Ahead of the ballot, which opens on 3rd March, with the result to be announced on 17th March, the CWU warned: ‘The Royal Mail over the last three weeks have made a calculated decision to move ahead with their business strategy without agreement.
‘Approximately 30 offices across the country have been given notice that revisions including MPU (Mail Processing Unit) closures and Post Box Strategy Revisions will be introduced within the next 4 to 6 weeks.
‘Royal Mail’s decision to introduce these unagreed plans, means there are a significant number of OPGs (Operational Post Grade) who don’t know if they have a job and if they do in which location within 4 to 6 weeks.
‘In London, Camden NW1 MPU has been given notice it will be closing in 4 weeks and the work transferred to Greenford Mail Centre.
‘The staff at Camden MPU do not know where they will be working in 4 weeks’ time and if they have a job, what they will be performing?
‘This is totally unacceptable.’