Cash rich unions threaten employers

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The Independent Online
Threats of industrial action came yesterday from the leaders of millions of workers in manufacturing, the civil service and BT, writes Barrie Clement.

In the wake of warnings of increased militancy by TUC lea- der John Monks, unions revealed they were preparing for a series of disputes in both the public and private sectors.

A TUC study reported yesterday that insecurity at work and disputes over redundancies now caused 40 per cent of all industrial action.

The Amalgamated Engineer- ing and Electrical Union disclosed that unions in manufacturing have set aside a pounds 10m strike fund to take action against "bad employers" who refuse to reduce the working week. The union's campaign for fewer working hours was in part to create more employment and avoid job losses.

Ken Jackson, acting general secretary of the union, said a campaign of stoppages five years ago had secured a reduction in the working week from 39 to 37 or 37.5 hours.

"A number of engineering companies avoided reducing the working week. We are now going after them," he said. If negotiations failed, action would be taken.

The TUC's two big general unions, the transport workers and the GMB, are both planning industrial action as part of their campaign to achieve a pounds 4 minimum wage.

Management at BT acknowledged yesterday that 25,000 engineers would vote for action in a dispute over safety practices. The Communication Workers' Union believes its workers are at risk if engineers climb telegraph poles or work unaccompanied on the cable network during the hours of darkness. The result of the ballot is due on 26 September.

In the civil service, more than 20,000 employees in the Employment Service are to be balloted over the imposition of a 2.75 per cent pay offer.

The Civil and Public Services Association said management had been deliberately provocative in insisting on awarding the worst pay rise in the civil service.