wikipedia writes: Unite the Union, known as Unite, is a British and Irish trade union, formed on 1 May 2007, by the merger of Amicus and the Transport and General Workers' Union. It is the largest trade union in the UK and Ireland. The General Secretary of Unite is Len McCluskey.[2]

On 2 July 2008, Unite signed an agreement to merge with the United Steelworkers to form a new global union entity called Workers Uniting which represents over 3 million members in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, North America and the Caribbean. Unite retains its separate identity in the United Kingdom.

Speaking at a Unite the Union, Belfast Jimmy Browne lecture on May 22.  various participants debated the anti trade-union legislation. The debate was chaired by Jackie Pollock

Gregg Sachno (Tutor in industrial relations at Unite)
education: ruskin college oxford.sheffield university:
Thirty years ago, PM Margaret Thatcher introduced anti trade-union legislation. Constitutionally speaking, this put the trade-unions out of existence and its purpose was to make trade-union ineffective.

Since the Credit Crunch of 2008, the Trade-Unions have been championing people who have taken the hit. Neo-liberalism in politics must be challenged, however, currently, the government is planning more anti-trade union legislation.

In the spirit of  worker-intellectuals Jack Dash, Des Henderson, Jimmy Browne and Will Page, we need to challenge Tories intellectually as well as industrially. This debate must be the start of repealing the anti Trade-Union legislation.

Jimmy Kelly (Unite Regional Secretary)
The last hundred years have tested the struggle. Unite The Union has compiled stories from World War I. Those memories show that men only owned the uniform they were wearing, one of those John Condon did not even have boots when he signed up. When the soldiers returned from war, Ireland had changed. At the time, the Trade-Union defended the rights of the dockers whose employment rights were unstable - similar to the modern zero-hour contracts. Unite kept sectarian thinking out of the workplace and since its creation it has  challenged discrimination based on race, belief, gender etc. Nowadays it needs to instill this ethic into young people and relate to them.

a) challenge the welfare cuts at Stormont and show solidarity with Britain and the Republic.
b) ( There are about 170.000 workers in Northern Ireland who earn less than GBP 7.65 per hour considered to be the Living Wage). The Trade Unions can help low-income workers to challenge the system or challenging legislation in court. Such procedures are lengthy and cost money, this is why solidarity with the union is crucial.


Professor Keith Ewing
Keith Ewing is a Professor of Public Law. Professor Ewing joined The Dickson Poon School of Law in 1989. Prior to this he was Visiting Professor at the University of Western Australia (1992); at the University of Alberta (1987-88) and at Osgoode Hall Law School (1982). He has also held positions at the University of Edinburgh, 1978-83 and at the University of Cambridge, 1983-1989.

In 1978, when Keith Ewing joined, 82% of the labour force was covered by collective agreement. Nowadays, this figure stands at 23%. Collective bargaining structures need to be rebuild. Yet in the Labour Party's 2015 manifesto, the word 'Trade Union appears only once'
The exit polls of the general election were shocking but not surprising. When Tories get elected, it is difficult to get rid of them and so it was always difficult for Labour to win the election. Currently, this means that the trade-unions will have to provide the opposition to the government.

These are the laws that the coalition changed:
a) individual employment right
Regarding unfair dismissal and employment tribunal, the fees for a hearing at an employment tribunal are GBP 1200.
The Croft Report is looking at employment rights and proposes to get rid of the 'unfair dismissal' clause altogether. Liberal Democrat Vince Cable stalled this, but now the new government will push this through.

b) trade-union rights
There are new laws regarding the collection of fees for trade-union subscription. The Unions will have to move from payroll to direct debit. This is perceived as a threat to financial security of the Unions.

There will be measures against tax-funded facility-time. This means that workers will have less time for trade-union work, and the Union will have to step in  to provide what the members can't do.

c) Right to Strike
The government proposes 50% of elligible members to vote on strikes in the sectors of fire, health, education and transport. 40% must decide in favour of industrial action. Yet the Tories were elected with 37% of the vote. The only two countries in the EU with a similar system are Bulgaria and Romania. The UN has expressed that the UK is in breach of international obligations.
If the Union makes the threshold of votes, then the second step is litigation. (ex. Unite against B.A.)

Further question arise regarding the future: is the EU referendum going to split the Trade-Union movement? What will happen to redundancy consultation and paid holidays in the future? The Labour movement is in crisis and planing for the future is important. Which victories can we manufacture in the near future. Let the debate begin.

Further reading: Human Rights and the Workplace

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