30 Oct 2009

EU drives down our pay!

The New Spectre Haunting Europe: The ECJ, Trade Union Rights and the British Government

organised by The Institute of Employment Rights in association with SERTUC

to book your free place, please book at office@ier.org.uk

about the conference

Nearly two years ago, trade unions faced four hostile decisions from the European Court of Justice. Those decisions – in the Viking, Laval, Ruffert and Luxembourg cases - struck at the very heart of trade union activity. They attacked the right of unions to take strike action in support of jobs. They undermined collective bargaining by preventing industrial action in defence of pay and conditions above minimum standards set out in the Posted Workers Directive.

Since then, the implications of those hostile European decisions have been played out in a series of UK disputes. First, BALPA was threatened with bankruptcy when BA brought legal proceedings against planned strike action to prevent the export of jobs. Then national agreements covering UK oil refinery workers at East Lindsey were threatened by the employment of Italian workers under the Posted Workers Directive. More generally, employers are using both the recession and reference to the hostile decisions of the ECJ to undermine terms and conditions and prevent unions fighting back.

Nor does the future look any brighter. If the Lisbon Treaty is forced through, the powers of the ECJ – used so aggressively in favour of employers in recent years - will grow still further with devastating implications for unions. Maintaining terms and conditions on major construction sites like the Olympics will be a struggle. Union campaigns like those for a living wage or for progressive procurement policies will increasingly be challenged.

So how should unions and their members respond? What are the political, legal and industrial options open to unions and their members? Unions are pushing politically for changes to EU and UK laws. Lawyers are looking at ways to challenge the direction of the ECJ through the ILO and the European Court of Human Rights. But can workers wait? Examples of workers ignoring restrictive laws and fighting back in defence of pay and jobs are already spreading - and winning.

This conference, organised around the 2nd anniversary of the initial ECJ decisions, aims to bring workers together with sympathetic academics and lawyers to share information, learn from each others’ experiences and plan for a better future.

Organised jointly by SERTUC and IER, the conference will offer a FREE day of lively debates in breakout sessions and full plenary discussions. Come and join us!


· 10.00 Registration
1. 10.15 Welcome from Chairs, Megan Dobney SERTUC; Carolyn Jones IER
2. 10:30 The impact of ECJ cases on collective bargaining and collective action. Keith Ewing
3. 11.00 Impact by Industrial Sectors
Barry Camfield, previous AGS of TGWU & serving Board member of ODA.
Chair: Steve Cottingham, O H Parsons
Phil Davies, GMB
Chair: Richard Arthur, Thompsons Solicitors
Public Services
Brian Caton, POA
Billy Hayes, CWU
Chair: Keith Ewing
Bob Crow, RMT
Chair: John Hendy, QC
4. 12.30 LUNCH provided by SERTUC
5. 1.00 Assessing the industrial problems: projecting likely responses:
Interpretive Reports from Chairs of Sectoral Sessions (Panel)
6. 1.40 An international Response
7. 2.00 Policy Possibilities at the European level John Monks, ETUC
8. 2.30 Domestic policy proposals in the UK Sarah Veale, TUC
9. 3.00 The New Spectre Haunting Europe: Time to change course? John Hendy, QC Old Square Chambers
10. 3.30 Close of conference

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