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MANDELSON ANNOUNCES PROGRESS ON FAIRNESS AT WORK

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The government's conclusions following consultation on the Fairness at Work white paper were announced yesterday by...
The government's conclusions following consultation on the Fairness at Work white paper were announced yesterday by secretary of state for trade and industry Peter Mandelson.

The package will be a modern forward looking framework of law for employment relations.

In a written answer to a Parliamentary Question from Rosie Winterton MP, Mr Mandelson said:

'The white paper on Fairness at Work was published in May and the consultation period ended in July. Since then, the government has been developing the policies in the white paper to form legislative

proposals.

'We remain fully committed to the principles in the White Paper, but have also listened closely to the concerns expressed in the consultation to develop sensible, balanced legislation that will represent a settlement for the whole Parliament and endure beyond.

'As the competitiveness white paper highlighted, a key feature of our top performing companies is a culture which promotes fairness and trust and creates the right conditions for business success. This Bill will promote in all UK companies the standards of the best modern employment relationships.

'I intend to bring forward a Bill in the New Year. The government is committed to action or has taken action on all 29 of the proposals in the white paper.

'I am depositing in the Libraries of the House copies of letters which I have written to the TUC and CBI which contain a detailed summary of our intentions for the Bill.

'The following are the key points:

'Trade union recognition will essentially follow the procedure within the white paper. However, we intend to build in measures to ensure

that the recognition procedure functions effectively and credibly. A revitalised Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) will have discretion in cases involving automatic recognition and the secretary of state will also be able to issue guidance to the CAC. We also intend that employees campaigning for recognition should have protection from dismissal or action short of dismissal.

'We intend to offer a real incentive to employers to put in place proper voluntary systems to avoid unfair dismissals. We will

therefore be raising the limit for compensation for unfair dismissal from£12,000 to£50,000 and index linking that sum in the future.

'The Bill will safeguard the fundamental right of employers and employees to reach individual contracts which differ from the terms of any collective agreement. However, we will protect employees from being forced into signing individual contracts where a collective agreement exists.

'We will also provide protection for those engaged in lawfully organised official industrial action. It will be automatically unfair to dismiss employees for the first eight weeks of the action. Thereafter dismissal will be fair provided that the employer has taken all reasonable procedural steps to resolve the dispute.

'As outlined in the white paper we will be bringing forward a package of Family Friendly measures to ensure that as many people who want to work should have the chance to do so.'

Notes

1. The Fairness at Work White Paper (Command Number 3968) was published in May 1998.

2. Copies of the papers deposited in the Libraries of the House are available from the DTI Press Office.

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