Employment law to change again, Byers announces

Trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers has outlined further areas of legislative changes in employment, despite saying that ministers are aware of the unease among employers over the flood of recent regulations.

Although he told the Labour Party conference last week that the Government wants to see how the new employment laws bed down, he highlighted to delegates other issues it plans to tackle.

These include the practice of “blacklisting” workers for belonging to a trade union.

Byers said, “At the beginning of the 21st century, can it be right that individuals can be blacklisted by employers and denied work on the basis of exercising their lawful rights as trade unionists? It is an affront to our democracy. It must come to an end. Under our government it shortly will.”

A review of support for working parents is also under way.

Earlier in the week, Tony Blair outlined measures to boost the computer skills of the workforce. There will be 6,000 computer centres across Britain, providing Internet access and help with technology and an 80 per cent discount on computer courses for everyone.

And the Government bowed to demands by unions and backbench MPs and will ask the Low Pay Commission to review the young workers’ minimum wage rate of £3.20 a week.

The Conservatives are holding their conference in Bournemouth this week.

• Textiles firm Coats Viyella came under fierce attack from union leaders and an MP at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference.

The company was accused by TGWU officials of not consulting with staff when redundancies were announced at factories in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Coats Viyella is planning to close four factories with the loss of 3,000 jobs.

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