TUC

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th July 1988.

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Mr. Robert G. Hughes::

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he has any plans to meet the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress to discuss industrial relations; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Secretary of State for Employment

I have no present plans to have such a meeting. Over the last three years there has been a substantial improvement in industrial relations, with both fewer working days lost and fewer strikes.

Mr. Hughes:

When my right hon. Friend has a further meeting with the TUC general secretary, will he point out to him the importance of single union agreements in attracting inward investment to Britain, as Ford in Dundee has found? Will he stress to the TUC that British jobs are more important than the petty inter-union squabbles that are going on at present?

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Secretary of State for Employment

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. Such deals recognise that it is in everyone's interest that the business should be run profitably and free of strikes. I hope that the TUC will campaign so that we never see a repeat of the action which took place at Dundee, which deprived hundreds of unemployed people of jobs, rather than campaign against single union deals.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

Is it not clear that our anti-trade union legislation is worse than any such legislation in any other European country, and is in line with what happens in Poland under General Jaruzelski? Is it not clear also that it is even worse than the legislation in the United States? Is it not about time that the Government stopped putting their foot on the neck of the ordinary working class and the trade union movement and began to accept that freedom of association, freedom to strike and freedom to have independent trade unions are as important in this country as is in Poland?

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Secretary of State for Employment

What the hon. Gentleman has said is absurd. We have turned our back on the disastrous years of the 1970s when bad industrial relations and strikes exported British job after British job. That is the record of the previous Labour Government. Under this Government the number of strikes has reduced. The number of days lost through industrial action have also reduced dramatically.

Photo of Ian Taylor Ian Taylor , Esher

When my right hon. Friend has an opportunity to meet the general secretary of the TUC, will he discuss with him the excellent training that the EETPU provides for its members? One of its schools is in my constituency. Will he tell the general secretary that that is one of the responsible roles that trade unions should be pursuing?

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Secretary of State for Employment

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. A number of unions, such as the electricians and the engineers, have excellent training facilities. It is one of the areas in which trade unions should concentrate their efforts if they want to win members.