About the Conference
As we write this, the European Union is in turmoil as it lurches from one economic crisis to the next. Whatever your views on the EU – and there are many conflicting opinions – Europe has undoubtedly had a profound effect on workers’ rights in the UK. But, are the much trumpeted gains of the past now in danger of being swept away on a wave of austerity measures? Has the balance of forces within the EU swung too far in favour of finance capital and against workers’ rights?
In March 2011, the European Council approved the Euro Plus Pact, committing eurozone countries – plus 6 others – to the introduction of national laws governing employment. These included reviewing wage-setting arrangements, removing centralised collective bargaining, ending wage indexing and rebalancing wage settlements so that “the public sector supports the competitiveness efforts in the private sector.”
Other required reforms included removing so-called red-tape from small and medium enterprises and promoting flexicurity via labour market reforms. Concrete measures to implement these changes were approved in March 2012 and our speakers will comment on the social and economic implications of such measures.
Other changes in EU regulations and directives look set to continue. The EU Commission is currently undertaking a ‘fitness check’ of information and consultation rights to assess whether the EU based rights ‘impose excessive burdens’ in the context of collective redundancies, information and consultation rights and TUPE transfers. Already UK Ministers and the CBI are lobbying to have the EU rights weakened. The TUC on the other hand argue that UK workers are already easier, quicker and cheaper to sack and that UK employers are abusing existing weak laws through their use of section 188 notices.
From the courts, the European Court of Justice has in recent years inflicted severe restrictions on the freedom of workers to strike in favour of the right of employers to free movement of goods and services. Our expert speakers will review those decisions,assess the likely impact of the draft Monti II regulations and compare ECJ decisions with the more union-friendly decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.
We can expect the EU to carry on inflicting UK labour law for some time to come. This conference updates, informs and critically analyses that influence.
The IER would like to thank all those who attended this event. Conference papers are now available for free download below.
Report on the event
Our report on this conference can be found here.
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Dominique Lauterbury, Manchester Metropolitan University
Latest trends in EU Employment Law: an overview
Michael Dougan, Liverpool University
Equal treatment as a general principle of European law
Neil Todd, Thompsons Solicitors
How relevant is European law to collective rights?
Jeff Beck, GMB
Uskmouth Power Station: A Case Study
Linda Kaucher, Researcher on International Trade
Why EU Law means a war on workers
Hannah Reed, TUC
The Future of Social Europe and Workers’ Voice
Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director
Where next for European Employment Law?
Alex Gordon, RMT
Challenging Europe: a view from the RMT
Click here to download the full programme