After a century of self-regulation and light legal control of industrial relations, Britain swung to a much tighter state-regulated system from the early 1980s. These laws were most one-sided and restrictive of trade unions and their activities, both during disputes and in terms of their internal governance. They remained so despite three terms of Labour government from the late 1990s (though significant improvement of employee rights occurred then). They were overlaid by more progressive EU Directives in the 2000s, especially as regards employee equality rights.
With the triggering of Britain's departure from the EU, it is surely time to revisit this entire framework of law. The TUF is therefore initiating a 'root and branch' examination of the origins of British Labour law from the repeal of the Combination laws (1824/5) through to the strengthening of union rights (1870s to 1906) and on to the severe restrictions of those rights in the 1980s. We will then be looking forward with ideas/proposals for a fairer and more balanced scenario in a future post-Brexit Britain.
Papers will run chronologically through this important history, and there will be ample time for questions and discussion:
Dr Jim Moher, From Repression to the 'Great Charter of Union Rights' - the Combination Laws to the Trade Disputes Act 1906
Dr Adrian Williamson, The Age of Voluntarism? Trade Union law and practice 1914-1979
Professor Richard Whiting, The Thatcher reforms of the 1980s
Sarah Veale, Manifesto for a comprehensive revision of workers' rights
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