Trade union experts have rubbished claims that the TUC name is old fashioned and, as such, limiting its appeal to a wider audience.
Rory Murphy, the former boss of Amicus union, now part of super union Unite, has warned the very name Trades Union Congress smacks of the 19th century. Writing for Personnel Today, (see Opinion, page 16), Murphy recommended the union change its name to better represent what it does and to attract new members.
Trade union membership stands at 59% for public sector workers but just 16.1% for the private sector.
Murphy's comments come as the TUC begins its annual congress in Brighton, where it will debate how to strengthen employee rights in equal pay, training and pensions.
Names such as the Organisation for Workers' Rights would be better understood, Murphy said, adding that the TUC should consider merging with the CBI to fight for fairness for all workers.
But a TUC spokesman slammed the claims. "With unemployment on the rise and millions of workers facing falling living standards, union members expect a little more from the TUC than a debate about a new name," he said.
Roger Seifert, director of the Centre for Industrial Relations at Keele University, described the TUC as a powerful brand and warned that any name change might reduce its impact.
The CBI's head of employment Neil Carberry said his organisation and the TUC both cared about the workplace, but said they differed in certain areas.
"In a healthy society it's important for those interests to be expressed openly and independently," he said.