European Works Councils: The Effects of Brexit

Speakers: Catherine Barnard (University of Cambridge) and Jonathan Hayward (UNITE the Union)

Catherine Barnard: Brexit and the Legal Challenges facing European Works Councils Catherine will address the main legal challenges that confront European works councils following Brexit, particularly those located in UK multinational companies. These include their changed status under UK legislation, as well as the effects that UK withdrawal has on the calculation of company size thresholds that trigger inclusion under the term of the EWC Directives.

Catherine Barnard has been Professor of EU Law and Employment Law at Trinity College, Cambridge, since 2008. She is the author of European Union Law (2020) and The Substantive Law of the European Union: The Four Freedoms (2019), among many other publications, and Senior Fellow in the UK in a Changing Europe project. She is a regular contributor to radio and television programmes on the impact of Brexit.

Jonathan Hayward: Brexit and the Practical Challenges facing European Works Councils
Jonathan will consider the main practical challenges that Brexit has created for the functioning of EWCs, particularly for the continuation of those based in UK multinationals, the continued participation of UK employees within the scope of EWCs, challenges for UK employees/reps in the future and the responses from Unite and its European allies.

Jonathan Hayward is an experienced International Officer in UNITE the Union who has an extensive level of knowledge in the area of European industrial relations and European works councils. Jonathan is a recognised lead expert negotiator in EWC negotiations and has negotiated EWC agreements under various EU member state laws and more recently under Irish law due to the impact of Brexit. He also acts as trade union expert/coordinator to a number of EWCs on behalf of the European Trade Union Federations, including International Airlines Group (IAG), GE Aviation and Swissport.

IHR Seminar Series: History & Policy Trade Union Forum

Rethinking Trade Union Education: Delivery

How should Trade Union Education be delivered? On-line Learning rocketed upwards during the pandemic allowing thousands more Union members to learn at home rather than travelling to a College or other venue. This helped large numbers of eg women and parents. Yet many others feel that face to face Learning is stronger, allowing a shared sense of community and helping new Reps grow confidence. Some Union learners don’t like classrooms (they may not have positive memories), should unions expand e-learning and make more use of their own Offices? Some Union staff and activists are trained to act as Tutors, others use the pedagogical, expertise of e.g. FE staff. Some unions largely deliver their own Education programmes. Others work closely with providers such as Colleges, Universities, the WEA, subject specialists or new organisations like The Learning Curve. Should the TUC coordinate training? And channel funding? Trade Union Education methods are famously Lerner centred, democratic and collective; how best should that tradition be developed? 

Speakers includeSue Ferns, Senior Deputy General Secretary, Prospect and Professor Mark Stuart, Leeds University Business School and expert on the Union Learning Fund. 

Chair: Tom Wilson, former Head of Unionlearn

IHR Seminar Series: History & Policy Trade Union Forum

Rethinking Trade Union Education: The Curriculum

This seminar will look at what content should be covered by Trade Union Education, Unions have limited resources and need to choose. A broad range of subjects including e.g. Green issues or more on equalities - or a focus on the skills that Reps need? Should unions provide professional training for members or is that the job of employers? Should unions simply provide Learning in whatever subjects members want? How detailed and extensive should training be? Members with limited time may want a short one hour session on one topic but should such modules be assembled into a larger programme? How should unions build or borrow or share their learning resources? Should Reps be generic or be encouraged to develop specialisms in eg Health and Safety or Equalities? Should learning conform to external accreditation rules or should Unions develop their own standards? Different unions may have different answers to these questions but some argue for a Union wide consensus. 

Speakers include

  • Steve Craig, Unite 
  • Sarah Jameson, education policy officer, Trade Union Advisory Group to the OECD

ChairSarah Veale, former Head of Equality and Employment Rights, TUC 

IHR Seminar Series: History & Policy Trade Union Forum

New Labour’s employment policy (1997 to 2010): lessons for the future of work

Under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, New Labour was in power longer than any previous Labour government. However, its economic and employment policies have remained controversial. These include ‘third way’ concepts like the enabling state and flexible labour markets, as well as a new emphasis on individual employment rights and the National Minimum Wage. A decade on, this event explores some policy lessons from the New Labour experience, read in three historical contexts: the prior experience of Thatcherism and the UK’s transition to a service economy; the earlier history of Labour in power; and wider trends in European social democracy. The day will also consider New Labour’s influence on the Conservative-led governments that followed and current political debates about work, from a variety of perspectives. 

0:00 Welcome | Philip Murph (Director of History & Policy, Institute of Historical Research)

5:11 Session 1 | New Labour at work: framing the debate
Chair: John Edmonds (former Gen Sec GMB)
• Peter Ackers (Industrial Relations historian)

21:09 Session 2 | Witness Panel: New Labour’s contested legacy
Chair: Helen Hague (journalist)
• Jon Cruddas (Labour MP)
• John Monks (former Gen Sec TUC & ETUC)

2:00:13 Session 3 | After New Labour: wider policy lessons
Chair: Helen Hague (journalist)
• Anne-Marie Greene (Industrial Relations academic)
• Sarah Veale (former TUC head Equality and Employment Rights)

3:10:25 Session 4 | After New Labour: wider policy lessons
Chair: Philip Murphy (Director of History & Policy, Institute of Historical Research)
•  Patrick Diamond (Historian of New Labour)
• Adrian Williamson (Historian of post-war Britain)

After P&O – Will Labour’s New Deal change things?

Research by the Trades Union Congress has shown that 3.7 million workers in the UK – one in nine of the total workforce – are in insecure work. Zero hours contracts have proliferated across the last decade, while the recent P&O scandal has highlighted the importance of security at work. What would a Labour government do differently? The party has set out proposals for a New Deal for Working People. What impact would this New Deal have, and what does the experience of previous attempts by Labour to extend employment rights suggest for the prospects of change?


  • Justin Madders MP (Shadow Employment Rights Minister)
  • Professor Keith Ewing (King’s College London and President of the Institute of Employment Rights)
  • Verity Davidge (Director of Policy, Make UK)

Chair: James Parker (Department of History, University of York)

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