Minority of ‘hardcore’ employers using union busting

Only
a minority of UK employers adopt US-style union busting, according to new
research.

Research
by the TUC claims UK employers targeted by union organising campaigns have not
generally adopted US-style ‘union-busting’ tactics.

However,
the TUC claims, a hardcore minority of employers, keen to resist the
unionisation of their workforce, are using tactics that would be illegal in the
US.

The
survey was conducted by Ed Heery, of Cardiff Business School, and Melanie
Simms, of the University of Kent at Canterbury, and published today in ‘Bargain
or Bust? Employer responses to union organising’.

Among
the findings are:

·
Most employers who already recognise unions are generally helpful to union
recruitment drives

·
Full-time union officers report that a majority of targeted non-union employers
provided some access. Graduates of the TUC Organising Academy found more
employer resistance, but still reported a substantial minority of non-union
employers providing some support

·
Employers wishing to resist unionisation have adopted differing tactics,
ranging from victimisation and dismissal of union activists, denying access to
the workplace, discouraging membership and circulating anti-union literature
through to increasing pay and setting up new consultative mechanisms

·
There is some evidence that employers are becoming more resistant, possibly
because unions first organised relatively soft targets. But there is evidence
of the growth of ‘unfair labour practices’, which would be outlawed in the US.
UK law does not provide this kind of protection.

·
Unions are also adopting new tactics such as attempting to organise a whole
sector and offering partnership industrial relations as Prospect has done in
archaeological services.

The
authors said: "There are signs that the intensity of employer opposition
to organising is rising in Britain with the possibility that this will halt the
recent revival of union fortunes and perhaps throw it into reverse.

TUC
general secretary Brendan Barber said: "This is further evidence that
union recognition rules are working well. They have not caused the disruption
or difficulties their opponents predicted. However, a minority of employers are
using union busting, and the law should offer the same protection against
unfair tactics as exists in the US."

By Quentin Reade

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