Wednesday 31 December 2008

European legislation

There have been two important developments, and I also want to draw attention to a UNITE campaign that every member should be supporting.

The European Parliament has at long last passed a revision to the European Works Council (EWC) Directive. UNITE's comments suggest this is generally positive.

MEPs also voted through amendments to the Working Time Directive. This was a very significant vote, with many Labour MEPs rebelling against the UK Government's long obstruction to this vital health & safety legislation, but unfortunately doesn't mean that we will necessarily see the end of the "opt-out".

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) rulings in the Viking, Laval and Ruffert cases are a very serious threat to union rights. Basically, the court believes that the right of companies to trade freely has precedence over the right of workers to take industrial action. This means that even if workers comply with the UK's ridiculous red-tape around industrial action ballots, any action could still be ruled illegal. UNITE has set up a web site to campaign on the issue at There's a petition on there which we should get everyone to sign. If we can collect a million signatures, we force the issue to the European Commission.

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