Federation News: The need for a Trade Union Freedom Bill

Submitted by carolyn on Wed, 11/10/2006 - 17:52

Executive Editors Keith Ewing and Carolyn Jones

Published in October 2006

To celebrate the centenary of the introduction of the Trade Disputes Act 1906, this edition of Federation News is dedicated to the 2006 campaign for a new Trade Union Freedom Bill. Six general secretaries of unions representing nearly 4 million workers, outline why they believe restrictive trade union laws should be replaced by positive trade union freedoms.

But first the arguments for a Trade Union Freedom Bill are placed into historic, economic and legal contexts. Keith Ewing discusses the legal lessons to be learnt from the Trade Disputes Act of 1906. He suggests positive rights rather than legal immunities would be more appropriate for the 21st century. Frank Wilkinson and Simon Deakin track the economic impact unions have historically had on society and the role they play in reducing inequalities. Jon Cruddas goes on to argue that if labour wants to reconnect with the vast majority of workers, they must drop the rhetoric about a “new knowledge economy”, acknowledge the growth in poorly paid service sector jobs and implement policies – like the Trade Union freedom Bill – which will help address current inequalities in society.

From the unions Tony Woodley, Dave Prentis, Bob Crow, Billy Hayes, Mark Serwotka and Derek Simpson explain by example why they believe the current framework of law needs updating to deal with globalisation, privatisation and outsourcing.

Finally John Hendy, QC looks at the legal detail of the Bill, summarising its six main proposals. As he says the proposed Bill is modest, moderate and mild. But it would mark a significant stride in the right direction.

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