27 Juli 1999
The president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Sir Clive Thompson, has sparked controversy by warning that the much-discussed concept of partnership may be hiding a "damaging build-up of trade union influence". His remarks, made in a speech to an audience of employers on 23 June 1999, have been strongly criticised by union leaders and have highlighted the diverging interpretations placed on the idea of partnership by different groups of practitioners and policymakers. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has been actively promoting the concept of union-based partnership at work, but the government and employers' organisations are unwilling to accept that partnership arrangements necessarily require union involvement (UK9906108F ).  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined-industrial-relations/tucs-partnership-agenda-wins-qualified-support-from-government-and-employers
27 Juli 1999
On 7 July 1999, the trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers, initiated consultations with employer and trade union organisations on two proposed amendments to the Working Time Regulations 1998, which seek to implement the EU working time Directive (93/104/EC). The amendments - relating to the scope of the derogation for "unmeasured working time" and the record-keeping requirements for workers who have signed an "individual opt-out" from the 48-hour limit on average weekly working hours - are intended to "help employers come to terms with the Regulations". The government's move follows extensive complaints from employers' groups that the working time Regulations, which came into force in October 1998 (UK9810154F ), have led to confusion and increased bureaucracy.  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined-working-conditions/new-working-time-regulations-take-effect
27 Juni 1999
On 14 June 1999, the UK government launched a new, non-statutory code of practice to encourage employers to adopt policies designed to avoid age discrimination in employment. The code - Age diversity in employment - covers good practice in six areas of the employment "cycle", urging employers to:  http://www.dfee.gov.uk/agediversity/practice.htm
27 Juni 1999
Speaking at the national conference of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) on 3 June 1999, Stephen Byers, the trade and industry secretary, devoted his speech to the issue of regulation and the Labour government's commitment to reduce the burden of regulation on business, including employment legislation. He said that "getting regulation right" was a major priority for the government, and that an essential element of this was to avoid burdening businesses - especially small businesses - with unnecessary regulation.
27 Juni 1999
On 23 June 1999, the trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers announced details of a GBP 152 million aid package to secure nearly 9,000 jobs at the Rover car plant at Longbridge near Birmingham. Rover is owned by the German-based motor manufacturing group, BMW. The package is made up of GBP 129 million from central government as "Regional Selective Assistance", supplemented by a local contribution of GBP 23 million from Birmingham City Council, the local Training and Enterprise Council and the new Regional Development Agency. The central government component will be phased over six instalments, ending in 2004, and is linked to the achievement of productivity guarantees by the company.
27 Mai 1999
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) says that its latest annual employment trends survey, published on 12 May 1999, shows that "employers are successfully using the UK's increasingly flexible labour markets to generate jobs, but that they are in danger of being hampered by new regulatory burdens". The survey showed that over a quarter of respondent companies (and over 40% of companies with more than 5,000 workers) thought that new regulations on issues such as the minimum wage (UK9904196F ), working time (UK9810154F ) and trade union recognition (UK9903189F ) would have a negative impact on their business competitiveness. However, approaching three-quarters of all respondents believed that the legislation would not have a significant effect on their ability to compete. Similarly, some 70% ranked workforce skills as among the most important factors influencing competitiveness, and three-quarters said their staff have a flexible attitude to changes in the workplace.  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined/the-uks-first-national-minimum-wage  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined-working-conditions/new-working-time-regulations-take-effect  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined-industrial-relations/trade-union-recognition-and-the-employment-relations-bill
27 Mai 1999
A draft order reducing the qualifying period of continuous employment for the right not to be unfairly dismissed was approved by Parliament during May 1999 and is due to come into force on 1 June. From that date, employment tribunals will be able to hear complaints of unfair dismissal from dismissed employees with at least one year's service. A two-year qualifying period has applied since 1985. The reduced qualifying period also applies in respect of the statutory right to receive a written statement of the reasons for dismissal. The Department of Trade and Industry says that the change will improve job security for 2.8 million employees while maintaining the flexibility employers need in recruitment.
27 Mai 1999
Membership of trade unions in Britain (ie excluding Northern Ireland) has stopped falling for the first time in 18 years, according to a new report  published in May 1999 by the Trades Union Congress (TUC). The report, based on statistics from the official Labour Force Survey carried out in the autumn of 1998, shows that 6.8 million employees belong to trade unions, representing 30% of all employees. This figure is effectively unchanged from the previous year. The TUC attaches considerable significance to the growth in membership amongst key groups of workers such as women, part-time and Pakistani and Bangladeshi employees, and those in low-membership occupations such as sales. However, membership has continued to fall in sectors such as manufacturing where levels of unionisation have traditionally been high.  http://www.tuc.org.uk/vbuilding/tuc/browse/object.exe?5212&0&0&1&1
27 April 1999
On 21 April 1999, the UK's education and employment secretary, David Blunkett, hosted a meeting in London with the Italian minister of labour and social security, Antonio Bassolino, to discuss "issues of common interest on employment, training, active labour market policies and the European employment pact" (EU9903160N ). The UK's Labour Party government is committed to campaigning for labour market flexibility in Europe (UK9704125F ), and the meeting with the Italian employment minister, held in advance of the June European Council meeting in Cologne, follows recent similar bilateral discussions with countries such as Spain and Sweden (UK9812170N ).  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/labour-and-social-affairs-council-discusses-european-employment-pact  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined-labour-market/the-industrial-relations-consequences-of-the-new-labour-government  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/uk-and-spain-issue-joint-statement-on-employment
27 April 1999
In March 1999, officials of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and theTrades Union Congress (TUC) drew up a joint social partners' contribution to the UK's National Action Plan (NAP) on employment. Following a similar procedure to the previous year, when the UK's first NAP was drawn up in response to the EU Employment Guidelines (UK9805122F ), the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) has consulted the two organisations on the content of the 1999 NAP. As well as submitting their own responses to the DfEE, the CBI and TUC have again drawn up a short joint contribution for inclusion in the NAP.  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined-industrial-relations/social-partners-make-joint-input-to-uk-national-action-plan-on-employment