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Law 'erodes rights of employees'

BRITAIN'S trade union laws infringe international conventions on human rights and the Employment Bill will make matters worse, according to Liberty, formerly the National Council for Civil Liberties, writes Barrie Clement.

As the Bill began its Committee Stage yesterday, Liberty said Britain was virtually unique in Europe in not providing a legal basis for the rights to strike, to win union recognition and to stop work under dangerous conditions.

Andrew Puddephatt, Liberty's general secretary, said freedom of association and the right to refuse to work were fundamental rights. 'Trade unions have played a vital role in improving conditions of life for people and in resisting tyranny. In Britain however, current and proposed legislation threaten to take us below international minimum standards.'

The Bill aims to abolish wages councils, force unions to give seven days' notice of strikes and give powers to individuals to challenge unlawful stoppages.

Liberty says there has been no pressure for the Bill from the public and many of its proposals have been condemned by employers.