National officer, Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical UnionAre HR managers losing the plot? I hear the old tunes being played. Legalcomplaints are equated with excess bureaucracy. Managers are falling back onthe old red-tape whinges.The Government is apparently to blame for imposing all sorts of extraregulation. If the whole thing can be blamed on Brussels bureaucrats, freshfrom straightening bent bananas, then so much the better.It is nonsense, and HR managers ought to know better. The Blair Governmentlooks at the law and work in a new way for Britain. The minimum wage is here tostay and, delightfully, Mr Portillo and friends do not now provide analternative perspective on it. Trade union power is not about to be unleashedon an over-stretched, supine management. The Employment Rights Act will not letthe Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) hand over workplace representationwithout strict criteria being met. The CAC will also ban all unions from aworkplace if they think the application threatens sterile competition betweenunions.The point is this. The Blair Government is determined to see all of us havea minimum floor of rights at work as individuals. These rights are to be judgedin terms of individual cases of fairness, with the legal system holding thecoats between employer and employee. The new role for unions is to matchemployers’ resources with legal expertise to ensure individuals know theirrights and exercise them.If strikes are a thing of the past, unhappiness at work is still very muchwith us. There are 100,000 employment tribunals a year. It is surely preferablethat unions support people with one eye on the individual’s case and the otherfirmly on the long-term relationship within the company.Above all, the continuing saga of personal injury at work more thanjustifies government regulation over safety issues and trade unionparticipation in the compensation process. Last year, unions settled over50,000 cases and obtained £308m for members with a success rate of 96 per cent.Most unions now provide a 24-hour free advice service, way beyond direct injurycases. Some unions are extending the benefits of free union legal services tofamily members. The Engineers and Electricians union has more than 20,000personal injury cases underway at the moment and recently secured over £1m fora roofer who fell after working without safety equipment and suffered braindamage.In compensation and tribunal cases, the law at work is here to stay.Managers should welcome union legal intervention against a background where lawreplaces the trial of strength associated with yesteryear’s industrialdisputes. And if their companies have done nothing wrong, they have nothing tofear, do they?By John Lloyd Previous Article Next Article Burden of guilt weighs heavier than red tapeOn 15 Feb 2000 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed.