Union calls on PM to tackle access problem

Skilled
and professional workers union Amicus wants Tony Blair to grant it access to
every workplace in the UK, claiming that many employers are exploiting
legislation to keep staff in the dark.

Amicus
general secretary Roger Lyons said that despite 470 recognition deals signed by
trade unions in the past year, millions of working people are being denied
their human rights.

"Anti-union
employers are exploiting the legal regulations to deny unions access to their
employees," he said.

"We
need 10 per cent membership in any workplace to trigger a ballot for union recognition.
So anti-union employers surround their staff with razor wire and high-tech
surveillance equipment to make it impossible for trade unionists to communicate
with them."

Amicus
will ask the Prime Minister to allow trade union representatives regular access
to all workplaces in the UK in order to provide information on membership and
advice on employment rights.

"Access
is not just about a physical presence in a large office or factory. The
majority of working people share their workplace with fewer than 50 people and
many organisations have a workforce spread over a wide geographical area with
people increasingly working from home. All these people are difficult for
unions to communicate with and easy for employers to exploit. We want the
Government to give us access to staff e-mail lists so we can offer them the
opportunity to choose union representation and protection over
exploitation," Lyons said.

Amicus
is also seeking a reduction in the 40 per cent threshold for recognition and an
end to the exclusion from the recognition law of workplaces with fewer than 21
employees.

"Union
members receive higher pay, get longer holidays and work shorter hours than
staff in non-union workplaces. The Government has a duty to provide genuine
opportunities for working people to join a trade union," Lyons said.

By Quentin Reade

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