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Union busting spreads to UK

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Union busting tactics that are plaguing trade union membership in the United States are spreading to the UK.

A new report US Union Avoidance Consultants: A Threat to the Rights of British Workers, written for the Trades Union Congress (TUC) by Dr John Logan from the London School of Economics, says that union busting is a multi-billion dollar business in the US and consultants have been so successful that despite some 60 million Americans saying that they would like to join a union, membership currently stands at just 7.5 per cent of the US private sector workforce.

According to the TUC, the fear is that the same will happen in the UK and, in a bid to combat the problem, the TUC is joining forces with its American equivalent – the AFL-CIO to thwart efforts.

The report says that the tactics used by union busters are designed to frighten and intimidate workers away from any union attempting to recruit them at work. Consultants hired by employers in the US warn the workforce that the union will start harassing them in their homes, risk their job security, and cause them a loss of earnings and benefits.

Employees are also given company leaflets warning them that if they join the union they are likely to be permanently on strike and under threat of violence should they join any picket line.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “This is a US export that UK workplaces could well do without. Thankfully the activities of the union busters are still small scale here compared with the influence they exercise in the States, but it’s important that we do all we can to stop them dead in their tracks. That’s why our agreement to work together with the American unions to counter the propaganda put about by the union busters is so important.”

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Annie Hayes

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