Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The attack on trade union time is an attack on workers rights

There's a considered post over on the Stronger Unions blog about why some on the Tory right are so keen to force reductions in agreed time off for lay trade union workplace representatives (http://strongerunions.org/2012/05/29/attack-on-facility-time-is-intended-to-have-much-wider-consequences/comment-page-1/#comment-11364).



In essence trade union "facility time" is a relatively soft target as a way of weakening the bargaining position of workers vis-a-vis employers in the workplace (an objective which, the response to Beecroft shows, is more controversial as a full frontal assault upon the rights of employees per se).



The foaming-at-the-mouth right-wingers of the Tory "Trade Union Reform Campaign" (http://turc.org.uk/) have quitened down since their launch - perhaps because their initial weapon of choice (nasty personalised attacks upon individuals) was a bit too close to throwing stones from within a glass house (http://union-news.co.uk/2011/12/breaking-news-taxi-for-turc-burley-sacked/).



However the Tory right have influenced a climate of opinion in which even sympathetic employers feel themselves under pressure to press for reductions in agreed trade union time off and many activists are having to deal with this issue alongside unprecedented job cuts and a gathering tidal wave of privatisation.



Somehow we need to rise to this challenge to empower and enable more activists to take up elected office. The more trade union duties are dispersed the less we will offer handy targets on formal full and part-time release.



(And as soon as I work out how to do that I'll post again!)



We also need to be assertive in explaining the legitimacy of the functions of our elected lay officers - and to ensure that our structures of democracy and accountability at branch level are robust so that we can give a good and transparent account of what we do on behalf of our members.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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