Unions welcome role in Government

New initiatives launched by the UK's Labour Government in June 1997 have resulted in trade unions being invited to take part in a wide-ranging consultation process, for the first time in 18 years. These moves were warmly welcomed by the trade union movement.

After 18 years in the wilderness, being frozen out of influence in the corridors of government by Conservative administrations, trade unions have been informed that they will be offered places on working groups being formed to advise various government departments. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) reports a substantially changed mood in Whitehall and Westminster, after years of unions being systematically excluded from representing their members.

On 4 June cabinet ministers launched three separate initiatives in a clear departure from previous Conservative policy. The TUC said that: "This has all changed now. Of course there were no secret deals before the election, and there is no pay back after the election. No one wants to go back to the kind of arrangements that existed in the 1960s and 1970s. But there is every sign that government has enforced the partnership it promised in its manifesto, and I and other union leaders have already had the chance to put the union case on a range of issues to the Prime Minister, various cabinet ministers and other ministers and their advisors"

The three separate initiatives are as follows.

  • Margaret Beckett, the President of the Board of Trade, announced that she was launching a new consultation exercise aimed at improving UK business competitiveness. Union leaders and leading industrialists will be offered places on working groups to advise on specific aspects of competitiveness. Both sides of industry have been invited to a competitiveness summit in July.
  • David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary, told the GMB general union's conference that the Government would press ahead with legislation to give workers rights to trade union recognition (UK9704125F). He was reassuring unions after they became suspicious that the Government might not keep to its promise on this point, when no mention of legislation was made in May's Queen's Speech (UK9705129N), which set out government policy for the next term. Mr Blunkett announced that there would be consultation with both sides of industry followed by a possible White Paper in the autumn.
  • John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, met public sector unions to discuss a timetable to end compulsory competitive tendering in local government (UK9706141N).

Government sources were keen to make it known that the social dialogue would be informal. The TUC and the Confederation of British Industry have also made it clear that they would like to return to some kind of social dialogue, so that matters are agreed prior to them reaching the legislative stage.

Useful? Interesting? Tell us what you think. Hide comments

Eurofound welcomes feedback and updates on this regulation

Lisää uusi kommentti