CBI backs moves to boost training and union membership

Private firms bidding for state contracts will have to offer their employees skills training and information about trade union membership under a deal announced this morning.

Employers’ group the CBI, union umbrella body the TUC, and the Cabinet Office were among the names on a joint statement published in Downing Street today.

The 16-page document states that the government will use its power as a procuring body to boost basic skills and trade union rights.

It read: “[Government] commissioning authorities will ensure that skills-related criteria are reflected in the contract specification and taken into account in assessing tenderers.

“[They will] include in government contracts, performance conditions requiring government contractors to provide access to basic skills training.”

On union rights, it added: “Government organisations commissioning and monitoring contracts for services will encourage service providers to provide information on trade unions and communicate this information to their employees in a timely and appropriate manner.

“Service providers should actively communicate with their employees and, where appropriate, seek to build good relations with trade unions.”

The news comes weeks after the draft Equality Bill revealed that firms going for public deals would be required to publish diversity statistics.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Soon, any people employed by contractors who win government contracts will be able to access basic skills training at work, and be able to find out how to join a union and learn more about the law and how it relates to their job.”

Susan Anderson, director of public services at the CBI, added: “Good public services value those who work in them, with managers responsive to both the public and employees.

“That is why the CBI endorses these guidelines as a basis for ensuring the staff in public services, in all sectors, are valued and get the opportunity to develop.”

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