Union deal will extend workers' rights

Jul 26 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

A deal between the Labour party and Britainís trade unions will see the next Labour government extend workplace rights in return for the unions bankrolling Labour's general election campaign

The changes, part of a late-night deal made at the Labour national policy forum, which decides the contents of the party's next election manifesto, will mean that millions of workers will get an extra eight days holiday each year because the practise of employers counting bank holidays as part of the minimum holiday entitlement of 20 days a year will be ended.

Other concessions include extending the restriction on sacking striking workers from eight weeks to 12 weeks, action to secure manufacturing jobs, help to protect pensions and planned legislation on corporate manslaughter.

A future Labour government will also reverse its current opposition to an EU directive giving agency and temporary workers similar rights to permanent employees.

On pensions, the deal ensures that pensions are covered by protective arrangements when people move jobs and will mean that pensions become a collective bargaining issue under union recognition legislation.

Changes to pension fund regulations to ensure that half of pension trustee are elected by a companyís employees will also be phased in over the course of the next government.

But the deal did not embrace union demands that firms should be forced to contribute to workers' pension funds.

Derek Simpson, the general secretary of the Amicus union, said: "The united stance of the unions on a number of policy areas has paid dividends that will pave the way for a third election victory for Labour."

But John Cridland, the deputy director general of the CBI, said that while businesses would be relieved that the concessions did not amount to a return to of ďold fashioned trade unionismĒ, he was nevertheless concerned that "the unions are chipping away at our labour market flexibility."