Labour Research October 2004

Features: Congress

Unions call for further rights

Congress re-affirmed its commitment to the repeal of the anti-union laws and called for the implementation of a charter for individual employment rights.

While welcoming advances in employment rights implemented by Blair's government, delegates expressed their concerns about its failure to repeal the Tory anti-union laws. Proposing the motion, Tony Woodley, general secretary of the T&G general union, said: "We need the right to take solidarity action ... and the right to take lawful strike action without fear of getting sacked."

The proposed charter for individual employment rights contains a guaranteed right to reinstatement or re-engagement where it has been ordered by an employment tribunal. Currently a tribunal can make an order for reinstatement or re-engagement following a successful claim for unfair dismissal, but the order is unenforceable.

Maria Exall of the CWU communications union stated that only 0.03% of unfairly dismissed employees were reinstated or re-engaged by their former employers. As Chris Morley of the NUJ said: "There would be uproar if a trade union failed to comply with a court order."