TUC urges government to ‘restore trade union freedoms’

Vociferous demands for action to further strengthen employment law pack the agenda for September’s TUC annual congress.

The draft programme for the union event of the year includes calls for greater powers for trade unions, strengthened diversity law and more use of government procurement to improve skills.

Union members are angry about business secretary John Hutton’s recent statement that the government had “successfully completed” its mission to update workplace law.

They will vote at the congress on a raft of motions calling for the TUC to ensure more legislation is drawn up.

One, tabled by super-union Unite, said: “[Congress] reiterates its calls for the restoration of trade union freedoms and for workers’ rights to be restored.”

A motion from civil service union the FDA calls for the public sector equality duty to be extended to the private sector, possibly forcing employers to publish workforce diversity statistics.

Construction union UCATT will ask congress to vote for a campaign to make all government contractors offer craft-based apprenticeships.

Chancellor Alistair Darling and skills secretary John Denham are among the ministers who will attend the congress in Brighton between 8 and 11 September.

Union membership falls

Exactly 28% of employees were union members at the end of 2007, a drop of 0.3 percentage points from 2006, according to government figures.

For the sixth consecutive year, more women than men were union members, but overall numbers have declined 4.5 percentage points since 1995.

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