Union laws `could lead to infighting'

NEW EMPLOYMENT laws could provoke "damaging confrontations" at the workplace between some of Britain's unions, warned John Monks, TUC leader.

Mr Monks urged unions to undertake major reorganisation to get the best out of impending labour laws and meet the challenges of the next century.

He warned a meeting of the TUC executive that proposed legislation on union recognitioncould result in vicious infighting, from which unscrupulous businesses could benefit. His report to union general secretaries said that unless workable procedures were introduced, "the standing of the trade union movement would be damaged and even the credibility of the legislation could be placed in jeopardy".

Mr Monks' plea emerges after signs that employers were trying to pre- empt the law by choosing unions they favoured rather than waiting for employees to opt for an organisation. The most recent example, revealed in The Independent, emerged at the Western Mail And Echo newspaper, part of Trinity Group, where management registered its enthusiasm to select a union not normally associated with the print industry.

The Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union was invited to tender for a single union agreement covering all the title's employees, whereas in the past the union has only represented a relatively small number of maintenance staff.