TUC in drive for workers' rights

Click to follow
PRESSURE is building on Britain to end its isolation from European social rules. John Monks, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, yesterday presented a petition signed by British workers to the European Parliament, asking it to push for rights of representation in Britain similar to those in other European countries. Britain's opt-out from the Maastricht treaty's social provisions was 'unacceptable and unsustainable', Mr Monks said.

The differences between rights to union recognition across Europe lead to absurdities when companies have bases in more than one country, Mr Monks added. Reed Elsevier, for instance, is an Anglo- Dutch company. In the Netherlands, there are works councils at each plant and a central works council, all of which have the right to be consulted about changes affecting the company. In Britain, Reed has terminated recognition and bargaining agreements, the TUC charges.

Mr Monks received a sympathetic hearing at the Parliament. It has been sharply critical of the British stance, and an unsuccessful move was made earlier this week to exclude British Euro-deputies from discussion of social issues under the Maastricht treaty.

Britain's exclusion is also threatened by new legislative moves in Brussels. The European Commission is pressing ahead with plans for a new directive on European works councils, bodies for the information and consultation of workers in multinational corporations, according to officials. Britain held out against the directive, and it is now being dealt with under the Maastricht treaty's arrangements.