Recall the statements by Lord Mandelson after the outbreak of wildcat strikes in the construction industry centred on the Lindsay oil refinery dispute.
Don’t worry, he told us, no laws have been broken by any of the multinational companies concerned
And, no doubt, he was telling the truth.
He told us he was sending Acas, the conciliation service, to investigate. He was sure of their results: the companies would be cleared
Who wasn’t certain of this outcome?
In this upside-down England it is against the law for workers to take strike action without a convoluted process (involving warning the employer!) – even though they have made a decision to down tools – and against the law for others to join them in solidarity.
But it is perfectly legal for big businesses to drive down terms and conditions, to undercut wages, and to exclude local jobseekers from applying for work.
Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress, responds:
‘It is hardly surprising that the ACAS enquiry has found that no laws have been broken, as the major union complaint is that the law does not properly protect UK based workers – wherever they were born.
‘The EU’s Posted Workers Directive has been implemented in the UK in a way that fails to guarantee UK agreements, and recent EU court judgements have raised even more worries that the law favours employers that try to undermine existing standards.’
On a similar theme: where are the rights of all workers to receive consultation in advance of redundancy? Why are temporary workers denied the rights that their co-workers enjoy?
I’m sure Lord Mandelson would be willing to instruct Acas to investigate BMW to see if their disgraceful sacking of 850 workers with one hour’s warning was in breach of the law…