Weaker workers' rights plan sparks union revolt

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Ministers were battling last night to avert a union and backbench Labour revolt against plans that are claimed will weaken the rights of workers to challenge sackings.

Ministers were battling last night to avert a union and backbench Labour revolt against plans that are claimed will weaken the rights of workers to challenge sackings.

The new Employment Bill, which comes before the Commons today, will mean employers cannot be sued for unfair dismissal even if they fail to carry out procedure to the letter. The Government's decision to overrule case law on the issue means that unions would, at a stroke, lose their ability to successfully pursue such cases at employment tribunals.

The move has been fiercely criticised by senior union leaders who have warned John Monks, the TUC general secretary, that they are no longer prepared to keep quiet about the way they are being ignored in favour of big business. A union source said: "This is the latest in a long line of examples of the Government bowing to whatever business wants and ignoring unions."

Ministers hoped relations with the unions were improving after a Downing Street summit with union leaders in the summer to reassure them about the limits of private sector involvement in public services.

However, the increasing influence of the CBI and other employers' groups within the Government has infuriated the Transport and General Workers' Union, Unison and the GMB among others.

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