Resist, Repeal, Replace – CTUF – IER May Day Rally

CTUF and the IER are arranging for a May Day Zoom event starting at 11.30 am and ending at 1.00 pm on Saturday, May 1st.

Please put this in your diary and RT and use on social media 

Speakers at the rally are currently being confirmed and will include union lay reps and union officials, lawyers and academics (to be announced soon) who will be discussing a wide range of employment and union rights issues including:

Fire and Rehire; Freeports, Employment Rights & the Brexit Agreement; the Uber Case/Gig Workers; Collective Bargaining; Zero Hours;  Tories Employment Law Review; What unions need from Labour on Employment and Union Rights; Shrewsbury 24;

There will also be short videos from overseas Unions plus the launch a new logo and a May Day Manifesto on Employment & Union Rights in the UK.

The event will be streamed on other  sites including Facebook.

More information will be posted here and tweeted. 

Posted in Campaign For Trade Union Freedom News, European Employment Rights, International Employment Rights, New Generation Of Trade Agreements, UK Employment Rights, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Artificial intelligence poses an inhuman risk to worker rights

By Frances O’Grady TUC General Secretary

This pandemic has transformed the way millions work. Many of us hadn’t even heard of Zoom until the crisis hit – now that we’re experts we sorely miss meeting colleagues face-to-face. But the huge growth in remote working is not the only technological shift we have witnessed during Covid-19. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) at work has massively accelerated too – albeit under the radar.

This is not a niche issue. AI is increasingly making life-changing decisions about our working lives – like who gets hired, how much workers are paid, and crucially who is made redundant from their job.

But as advances in technology gather pace, UK employment law is failing to keep up.

This should concern us all.

The TUC has today published a 100 page legal opinion from leading employment rights lawyers Robin Allen QC and Dee Masters from the AI Law Consultancy.

Both are hugely respected practitioners in their field and their message to government and policymakers is clear.

Unless urgent new legal protections are put in place, workings will become increasingly and powerless to challenge “inhuman” forms of AI performance management. We are already seeing examples of this happening – especially in the gig economy.

Put bluntly, there needs to be far more transparency over how AI is being used at work.

TUC research published in November revealed that fewer than one in three (31 per cent) workers are consulted when any new forms of technology are introduced.

And six in ten (60 per cent) said that unless carefully regulated, AI could increase unfair treatment in the workplace.

That is why the TUC has today issued a joint call to tech companies, employers and ministers to work with us on a new set legal reforms for the ethical use of AI at work.

These reforms should include:

  •  A legal duty on employers to consult trade unions on the use of high risk and intrusive forms of AI in the workplace.
  • A legal right for all workers to have a human review of decisions made by AI systems so they can challenge decisions that are unfair and discriminatory.
  • Amendments to the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and Equality Act to guard against discrimination by algorithm.
  • A legal right to “switch off” from work so workers can have proper downtime in their lives.

None of these calls are a roadblock to innovation. But they will provide much-needed protection for workers.

As legal experts Robin Allen and Dee Masters sum up neatly: “Used properly, AI can change the world of work for good. But used in the wrong way it can be exceptionally dangerous.

“There are currently huge gaps in the law when it comes to regulating AI at work. They must be quickly plugged quickly to stop workers from being discriminated against and mistreated.”

The TUC feels the same. Which is why, in addition to today’s legal report, we are publishing a short manifesto on the fair and transparent use of AI at work.

We hope all political parties sign up to the values and principles it enshrines.

Make no mistake. AI can be harnessed to transform working lives for the better.

But without proper regulation, accountability and transparency, we risk it being used to set punishing targets, rob workers of human connection and deny them dignity at work.

We are at a fork in the road on workplace AI technology. It’s vital that we pick the right path.

First published on March 25th

Posted in Campaign For Trade Union Freedom News, UK Employment Rights | Leave a comment

Shrewsbury pickets’ win appeal: “The pickets should never have been convicted””

The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign is delighted to announce that after 15 years we have finally achieved victory. The Court of Appeal has today quashed the convictions of the North Wales building workers who were tried for picketing offences in 1973- 1974.

The lead picket, Des Warren was sent to prison for three years and blacklisted upon his release. As a result, he never worked again and died prematurely in 2004, aged 67.

Two of the other twelve pickets represented by the Campaign had also been imprisoned: John McKinsie Jones for 9 months and Michael Pierce for 6 months. The other pickets received suspended prison sentences.

Terry Renshaw, a member of the Campaign since its inception and who received a suspended sentence, spoke for all the pickets:

“We never thought that we would see this day, when this miscarriage of justice was overturned. The Court of Appeal has acknowledged that we did not receive a fair trial. The police and the prosecuting authorities used every trick in the book to secure guilty verdicts even if it meant trampling over our rights and manipulating the evidence.

 On behalf of all the pickets I would like to pay tribute to the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign, without whom we would never have achieved this victory. In particular we owe a great debt to our Researcher, Eileen Turnbull, for working tirelessly to obtain the crucial evidence that got our case  to the Court of Appeal and brought about our victory.

Harry Chadwick, the Chairperson and founding member of the Campaign, was equally overjoyed.

“We have overcome tremendous obstacles to reach this day. We could not have done it without the support of the TUC, the trade union and labour movement. This is an historic victory for all working people.”

The Campaign’s Researcher and Secretary, Eileen Turnbull, paid tribute to the eight pickets who stood firm,

“I am particularly happy for the eight pickets who stood with the Campaign, through all the tough times: John McKinsie Jones, Malcom Clee, Michael Pierce, Terry Renshaw, Kevin Butcher, Bernard Williams and the families of the late Des Warren and Ken O’Shea. Their tenacity and belief in our case was an inspiration. Their quest for justice for all the pickets never waned.”

Statement by Len McCluskey General secretary of Unite – the Shrewsbury pickets were members of the TGWU and UCATT both legacy unions of Unite.

“Today is a joyous and  just day for the 24, and for working people everywhere, but these innocent workers should never have been put in this miserable position by the forces of the British state.

“We salute the heroic men and their families and their enormous courage in taking on the apparatus of the state in order to clear their names. History will rightly record their heroism.

“I send my very best wishes to my good friend Ricky Tomlinson, who can take enormous pride from today’s ruling, and my thoughts today are with Dessie Warren, who sadly did not live to see justice delivered, and his family who fought on in his name.

“It is also a landmark day in trade union history. For nearly 50 years this group of workers have been defending themselves agains deep, criminal injustices perpetrated by the state. Finally, the truth has been heard and justice has been done. 

“On behalf of Unite I want to pay tribute to their determination and to the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign, without whose work and commitment this victory for them and the working class would not have been possible.

“However, this day must also b marked with sadness, sadness for those who have not lived to see justice secured.

“Not only should the pickets never have been convicted, but the failure to overturn such clearly wrongful convictions for so long, casts a dark stain on society.

“It is vital that this miscarriage of justice is never forgotten. The pickets were victims of the state whose agencies, including the police, the judiciary and the intelligence services, conspired to make an example of ordinary trade unionists simply campaigning for better pay and safer working conditions for all building workers.

“The full details of who was involved in these trumped up charges remain shrouded in mystery and it is critical that the government papers from the time are finally published.

“It is essential that such state sponsored injustice is never allowed to happen again and that is particularly critical in the context of the present government which is intent on limiting the right to protest.

“In the light of  Norman Tebbit’s recent admissions, this verdict has ramifications for every person interested in freedom and human rights.

Posted in Campaign For Trade Union Freedom News, UK Employment Rights, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Aussie Unions Push Back Anti Union Bill

CTUF Australia – Barry Camfield

By Barry Camfield – CTUF Australia

Here in Australia, despite the ongoing pandemic and the selfless heroic efforts of nurses, doctors, ambulance crews and countless other health and public sector workers, the Liberal (Tory) Coalition Govt of Scott Morrison and his Nationalist mates continue to pursue attacks on workers and their trade union power and freedom.

This wretched Government’s latest IR Bill passed the Senate yesterday, stripped of all but one of its major provisions.

This was a win for unions, workers, and the community who campaigned against the changes. Some of the worst aspects of the original IR Bill have been fought off. Thankfully there will now be:-

*No changes to Greenfield Agreements for major construction works, (which would have seriously impinged on workers’ wages and rights).

*No changes to bargaining arrangements, and

*No changes to rights for part-time workers.

But the Bill represents a major setback for so-called ‘casual workers’.

Since the Government announced the legislation last year, Australian Unions, Labor, and the Greens have consistently opposed the Bill. They were joined by thousands in the community who saw these “reforms” for what they were: a dangerous attack on hard-won rights, that would entrench casualisation and shape workers’ conditions for decades to come.

The failure of the Bill is a vindication of their efforts, but it came at a cost. So, what happened?

Labor and the Greens opposed the Bill from the outset, meaning its passage would depend on the Senate crossbench. Senators Rex Patrick and Jacqui Lambie did vote against. Earlier this week, One Nation senators agreed to support the Bill, making minor changes to new, punitive rules for “greenfields” agreements and casual workers that left the substance of the Government’s attack on working people intact.

This left the amended Bill in Senator Stirling Griff’s hands. Yesterday morning, Griff called the Government’s actions “shameful”. Nonetheless, he agreed to pass changes to the rules on casual employment contained within the Bill.

Griff and the rest of the Senate all supported the one, good thing in this Bill: higher penalties, and the criminalisation of wage theft.

Yet even a bill slimmed down to two, core components—one bad, one good—wouldn’t make it to the Senate floor. At the last minute, the Morrison Government removed the new wage theft laws from the Bill – which passed, thanks to One Nation and Sterling Griff.

The Bill will now return to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to be passed into law. Morrison says he is unlikely to push through the defeated provisions.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the fight is over, because the his government’s commitment to casualisation is very much intact. Under the new rules passed with the Bill, whether a job is “casual” or “permanent” is decided at the start of the relationship between workers and employers.

That is, employers will be able to define “casual” work – and this doesn’t have to reflect what a worker actually does on the job. So even if you are working ongoing, regular hours, over a long period, you will not necessarily qualify as a permanent worker, with the security and rights that entails.

The implications are dire, as ACTU Secretary Sally McManus told media after the vote. “What they’ve done is overturned the rights of casual workers,” McManus said. “The Morrison government has stripped long term casuals of rights that they do have; rights that they have won over years in court and meaning, into the future, employers will be able to label people casual—even when they’re not.”

So what’s the state of play?

The defence of workers was won. The fight for secure work, and to improve workers’ pay, conditions and rights continues.

Posted in Campaign For Trade Union Freedom News, International Employment Rights, Uncategorized | Leave a comment