Legalise sympathy strikes, delegates say

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Indy Politics

The Prime Minister was presented with a fresh set of demands on workers' rights yesterday as he prepared to make his keynote speech to the TUC annual conference.

The Prime Minister was presented with a fresh set of demands on workers' rights yesterday as he prepared to make his keynote speech to the TUC annual conference.

Hours before his address, delegates unanimously passed a motion calling for a major extension to a deal on employment legislation agreed by unions and ministers at the Labour Party's national policy forum in June.

Among a list of 16 demands, the TUC called for unlimited rights to take sympathy action - so, for instance, train drivers could strike in favour of health workers. A composite motion called for new union recognition laws to include small firms, full employment rights for individuals and changes in insolvency laws to protect pensions.

Proposing the motion, Tony Woodley, the General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, said that while employment law had improved under the Labour government, it was "incredible'' that the union was still forced to demand basic rights enjoyed by employees on the Continent.

He said legislation introduced by the Blair government only constituted "half justice''. Employers can still sack workers by text message and "rob'' pensions. Workers were still forced to toil for long hours for low pay and women paid inferior wages.

Referring to Alan Milburn's appointment to the Cabinet, which will give him a major input into Government strategy, Mr Woodley said he was not bothered who wrote the election manifesto as long as he did not renege on previous pledges.

The resolution demanded tougher legislation on corporate manslaughter. Mr Woodley said: "Only when the first boss sees the inside of a jail will we stop the preventable and unnecessary deaths of working people.''

It also denounced the lack of progress on the adoption of European law, which would give temporary agency workers the same rights as full-time staff.

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