Friday, 30 May 2008

A New Future for Collective Bargaining in the EU?


Many of you will be familiar with the worrying trend within the EU reduce the protection for workers arising from situations where they work across European borders but are denied standards terms and conditons within existing collective bargaining agreements in their host country.

The infamous Bolkenstein directive attempted to create a single market for services within the EU to mirror the single market for goods. This would have made uniform a situation where, for example, Slovenian carpenters contracted to work in the UK would have been paid at Slovenian rates.

Although Bolkenstein failed in his movement for the adoption of a directive that would have built this concept a series of cases at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) have effectively stated that the right of employers to bid for work and supply labour within the EU supercedes the rights of workers to protection from exploitation and abuse.

The Laval, Ruffert and Viking cases have all set down judgements that have undermined the right, for example, of trade unions to strike against the undermining of existing terms and conditions through the use of labour employed from outside their country and paid at significantly lower rates.

A summary of each case and the ECJ judgement can be found on the web site of the European Trade Union Confederation:

There is some good news however, outlined via the link above, where the European Parliament has just agreed to review the principles of strengthening collective agreements on the basis of minimising attempts to use secondary labour to undermine them.

It is possible however, given the EU's Social Agenda and Lisbon Strategy that we don't get an absolute rejection of Bolkenstein-like labour supply across the EU. The wider agenda of the EU is currently built around concepts like 'flexicurity' and there are many in the movement who feel that you cannot accommodate a position to defend the needs of workers with the EU's significant criteria of enabling the free movement and goods and services.

Please have a look at the ETUC material and post replies.

Best wishes

Friday, 23 May 2008

A New Right to Request Time to Train

The Government has announced that it will be introducing a new legal right for employees in England to request time to train from their employer and that this will be modelled on the existing right to request flexible working.

There are the usual caveats for example employers can refuse the request. Overall however, this is a great move and one that has been debated across the movement for decades. There is a very useful unionlearn press release that gives full coverage on the announcement, including links to the relevant background documents:

What do you think your employer's responses will be?



Thursday, 22 May 2008

A New Deal for Agency & Temporary Workers


Following previous requests for updates on progress since Andrew Miller's bill it is fantastic to able to report a cave in on the part of the New Labour government with the confirmation that statutory rights to parity with other workers will be afforded to colleagues who work via agencies and/or are temporary.

Have a look at the article in Wednesday's Guardian for a more detailed account:

Any thoughts/comments?



Tuesday, 6 May 2008

May Day Around the World


It still sadly seems that around the world workers cannot come together for just one day in the year to celebrate the historical and contemporary relevance of organised labour.
Labourstart has (as usual) some very good coverage of the attacks on workers' organisations. The picture shown here pictures workers being tear gassed by riot police in Istanbul.

Can colleagues please post a reply about what you did on May Day?