Trade Unions and the General Election 2015

13 May 2015

By Professor Keith Ewing

Shortly after the general election in 2010, I wrote in these columns that Cameron would win the 2015 general election (Morning Star, 18 June 2010). The reason for this was largely historical. In this country Tory governments typically get at least two terms. Indeed since the end of the Second World War only one Tory government – that elected on 1970 – has failed to do so.

UCU victory against university employer

11th May 2015

By Michael MacNeil

In higher education the bosses often consider themselves to sit at the more enlightened and progressive end of the employers’ spectrum. They do, however, preside over obscene levels of casualisation, with ridiculous numbers of zero hour teaching contracts and with 67% of research staff on fixed-term contracts.

Anti-Social Europe: USDAW v Wilson in the ECJ

01 May 2015

By Michael Ford QC.

In the 1970s AZCO, a multinational with employees in various European countries, decided it would make about 5000 workers redundant. It took care to work out in which Member State the costs of redundancies were lowest, and sacked the workers there. The response from the European Community was Directive 75/129 on collective redundancies (now Directive 98/59). An early measure of social protection, the Directive emphasised in its preamble its primary objective: "that greater protection should be afforded to workers in the event of redundancies while taking into account the need for balanced economic and social development".

Collective Bargaining in Ireland: lessons for Westminster?

29 April 2015

By Michael Doherty, Professor of Law and Head of the Department of Law at Maynooth University, Ireland

The voluntarist system of employment relations that exists in Ireland is, of course, derived from that of the UK. Despite the common origins, however, a number of subtle differences have emerged, and persisted, over the years in relation to collective bargaining in the two countries. First, the statutory recognition procedure under the Employment Relations Act 1999 has no equivalent in Ireland. While the Irish Constitution protects the right of freedom of association, trade unions in Ireland enjoy no rights to be recognised for bargaining purposes by an employer. Employees are free to join a trade union, but they cannot insist their employer negotiate with that union regarding their pay and conditions. There is a framework under the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Acts 2001-2004 that allows a trade union to get a legally binding order in respect of specific member grievances, where employers refuse to bargain with the union, but this has been infrequently used since a successful Supreme Court challenge to its operation by the airline, Ryanair, in 2007.

IMF says unions are key to tackling inequality: Are you listening Mr Osborne?

18 March 2015

By Sabina Dewan and Gregory Randolph

As George Osborne delivers his last budget under this Coalition Government, we wonder if he has paid any attention to a recent report published by the International Monetary Fund on how to build a better future. We guess not. Why? Because the report reiterates what we have been saying for some time – that rising inequality is in part due to a decline in unionisation. According to the IMF report, even if governments and the private sector manage to create jobs and boost GDP, it will not result in greater equality unless unions have a key role in helping boost wages. The following report by the above authors sets out the case. Carolyn Jones

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