Draft constitution may give unions greater powers

Unions
in the UK could gain more powers under employment provisions in the EU draft
constitution, according to employment law experts.

The
draft constitution, which will be debated at an intergovernmental conference at
the end of this month, is expected to give legal force to the EU’s Charter of
Fundamental Rights, which could lead to more power for workers over collective
bargaining, strike action, discrimination and protection over unfair dismissal.

Neil
Bentley, head of employee relations at the CBI, said employers should be taking
notice of the proposals.

One
concern is that under article 28 of the fundamental rights charter, UK unions
could find it easier to achieve recognition and wield greater influence within
organisations.

Bentley
said: “It would give the unions a strong framework to lobby for changes to the
law in the UK on collective bargaining and strike action.”

The
constitution is also expected to remove the UK’s unanimity on social issues,
ending its power to veto proposals. It would then have to rely on forming a
blocking minority of opposing countries to fight proposals.

Jonathan
Chamberlain, a partner at Wragge & Co, said one main concern is the lack of
detail in the charter of fundamental rights, which means a lot will rely on the
interpretation by the European courts.

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