Trade Union Access to Workplaces — [Siobhain McDonagh in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:44 pm on 4th June 2019.

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Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 5:44 pm, 4th June 2019

I appreciate that point, and I hope I will get to address it slightly later in my remarks. I was trying to emphasise that those rights, as they exist, amount to the right for a union, through its individual members and officials, to recruit and organise in a workplace.

It is important that I address the argument about the UK’s general commitment to human rights. In particular, I wish to refute the argument that the right, under article 11 of the European convention on human rights, for workers to join a trade union and to organise is effectively being denied. That could not be further from the truth. The UK has a long-standing commitment to uphold human rights. The Government are satisfied that our trade union legislation complies with our international obligations, including article 11 of the European convention.

As I have set out previously, workers are free to join a trade union and to participate in trade union activities. That is protected by law. Unions are also free to organise and seek collective bargaining arrangements with employers. Where an employer refuses to recognise a trade union voluntarily, our legislation provides for a statutory recognition procedure. That allows independent unions to apply to the Central Arbitration Committee to be formally recognised for collective bargaining purposes. Unions that can demonstrate majority support for recognition in the workplace will secure statutory recognition from the committee.