Union threat to Securicor merger

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The Independent Online

The proposed merger between Securicor and its Danish rival, Group 4 Falck, faces a potential stumbling block after US trade unionists flew into Europe to voice their concerns over the deal.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is campaigning against labour practices at Group 4's US operations and is considering trying to derail the merger if its worries are not resolved.

The union is concerned that the merger will merely expand a company whose US subsidiary has a "long record of poor labour practices," a spokesman for the SEIU said.

Employees have brought around 90 cases against Group 4 in the past three years, according to the SEIU.

The union will be holding talks tomorrow and Tuesday with fellow unions in Copenhagen and London as well as with politicians, although the spokesman said he was unable to name which ones.

The next step will be to lobby shareholders and possibly pursue legal action under new European Union legislation that allows third parties to oppose mergers.

"It's a brand new regulation so we're looking at it to see how we could bring these types of concerns before the European Competition Commission," the spokesman said.

However, a Group 4 source dismissed the union's threats, disputing that it would be able to use EU regulations to its advantage and pointing out the small size of the SEIU's representation in the company.

The SEIU spokesman said its membership was 1 per cent of the workforce, but added that this supported its claims that Group 4 intimidated and discriminated against those who wanted to join.

A Group 4 spokesman said the company was in talks with the union and therefore could not comment as it was bound by confidentiality agreements. Securicor and Group 4 announced earlier this month that they were in merger talks but added that these were at an early stage.