Unions challenge Labour policy on secondary action

THE NEW Labour leadership is to come under pressure from the TUC to soften the party's relatively hard-line policies on secondary industrial action.

At present Labour believes that only workers with a 'direct interest' should be allowed to mount solidarity strikes, but the TUC next month will indicate that other secondary action should be permitted.

A proposition supported by left and right-wingers calls for the right of unions to determine their own rules in accordance with conventions set out by the International Labour Organisation, part of the United Nations. These allow for virtually unlimited secondary action.

Ministers are bound to seize on the proposition as a 'strikers' charter' and an illustration of how the Labour Party is influenced by its union paymasters. Delegates at the Labour Party conference in October are likely to vote for a reduction in the union block vote on policy issues from 90 per cent to 70 per cent, but union influence is still perceived to be critical. Senior Labour figures will, however, attempt to dismiss the motion on industrial law, at least in private, as the kind of Congress House 'fudge' which will not be allowed to influence policy.

The motion for the TUC was thrashed out after nearly four hours of negotiations at Congress House on Thursday and was eventually supported by unions traditionally associated with the left, such as the Transport and General and the National and Local Government Officers' Association. It was also supported after considerable discussion by the right-led Institution of Professional and Managerial Staffs and the engineering section of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union.

Right-wingers argue that the resolution simply reiterates existing TUC and Labour Party policy because it explicitly says there can be no return to the pre-1979 system of legal immunity for unions.

It is also pointed out by TUC loyalists that the more radical National Union of Mineworkers and FTAT furniture union thought the composite motion was far too mealy-mouthed for their taste and simply declined to support it.

The favoured proposition says that TUC policy should be 'in line' with a resolution on employment law adopted by Congress delegates in 1991. The left, however, points out that the original amendment tabled by the right- wing AEEU engineering section urged delegates to 'reaffirm' the policy. After much lengthy debate, the right allowed the reaffirmation to be watered down. The phrase 'in line' with previous policy was seen to be acceptably vague by most on the left and to leave a loophole to exert pressure on the Labour leadership.

Left-wingers also took comfort from the wording which seems to limit the ability of a Labour government to interfere in union rule books. It reads: 'Congress calls for the right for unions to determine their own rules in accordance with ILO conventions on freedom of association.'

The resolution is a sign that the old conflicts within the union movement are bubbling below the surface even though the left is far less powerful than it used to be.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams' life story will be told in a biography written by a New York Times reporter
arts + ents
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Qualified Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: This independent Nursery is looking fo...

Qualified Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: This independent Nursery is looking fo...

Merger and Acquisition Project Manager

£500 - £550 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN TAWe are looking to recrui...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis