Government warned off extending union rights

Employers have urged the government not to extend the scope of workplace collective bargaining to pensions and training.

The CBI said any extension to bargaining rules, which have been under consultation since the general election, would impose a “legislative straitjacket” on any discussions employers have with staff about these issues.

John Cridland, deputy director general at the CBI, said introducing statutory bargaining rights in these areas would create a one-size-fits-all approach which was not healthy for business.

Under the Employment Relations Act, unions only have collective bargaining rights over pay, hours and holidays. The government committed to consulting on extending recognition to cover training and pensions before the general election.

David Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy, at manufacturing and engineering organisation, EEF, said the changes were unnecessary.

He cited research among EEF members which showed that only a fifth of companies negotiated with the unions about pensions and training.

The proposals also received a lukewarm reception from HR.

Keith Luxon, HR director at utility company Veolia Water, said that all organisations were different and needed to find their own way to engage with employees.

“Imposing a central model will do little for good employee relations in the UK,” he said.

Martin Moore, HR director at the British Museum, agreed: “I can’t think of many employers who would actually welcome [these proposals],” he said. “Employers need to engage with staff, but this isn’t the way to promote the dialogue we all need.”

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