Government still in breach of European human rights law27 February 2003
financial inducements to workers
The Labour government will still be in breach of human rights law unless legislation spells it out to employers that offering financial inducements to workers for signing individualised contracts is illegal, the UK's leading trade union and employment rights law firm warns today.
Responding to the publication of the White Paper review of the Employment Rights Act, Thompsons Solicitors, the firm which won, with the NUJ, the landmark European Court of Human Rights case of Wilson and Palmer, says the white paper fails to spell out that workers have the right to representation by their trade union.
By not doing so the government is likely to remain in breach of Article 11 of the Human Rights Act - the right to freedom of association and to representation.
Stephen Cavalier, head of employment rights at Thompsons and the solicitor who represented Dave Wilson said:
"We told the government exactly what the ECHR ruling meant and what would have to be done to comply with the law. It seems that ministers believe they can use the term accompanied instead of representation. That is not our reading of what the ECHR said and shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the significance of the two terms. There needs to be a specific right for employees and their unions to enforce representation which needs to cover all aspects of working life."
Thompsons welcomed the government's proposals to provide earlier access rights for unions during recognition claims and clarification of the law in some procedural areas, but it still leaves a situation where the majority of employers remain exempt from the statutory union recognition provisions.
"Small employers constitute around 85 per cent of employers. Their workers need trade union representation more than most. They form a significant proportion of employers whose health and safety record is a disgrace. And they employ a greater proportion of women and more black people, with all the associated low pay and discriminatory practices. The government's belief that just because there have been so few claims to the CAC involving medium size employers there is no need to remove the small firm exclusion defies logic."