With a Tory Government that hates Health & Safety regulations and Trade Unions in charge of trade deal negotiations following the UK leaving the EU on 31st October, the opportunity will be there for American anti-trade union companies to offer their union-busting services to UK employers; aided and abetted by this Tory and subsequent British Governments as they desperately agree a US/UK trade deal irrespective of cost to the working people of this country and to there rights at work.
In 2000 when new Trade Union laws came in, one US company was so busy with enquiries from UK businesses, large and small, it sent over consultants to advise UK companies how to beat the new Employment Relations Act 1999 which includes the right of employees to join a Trade Union and employer's duty of recognition.
At the time, Carolyn Jones of the Institute for Employment Rights said:
"During the consultation period, we urged the government to adopt the European model of union recognition, which does more to safeguard workers' rights," she says. "We said, 'If you're really serious about strengthening unions and collective bargaining, don't go for laws based on the American system.' But they did."
Perhaps on this basis, with 20 odd years of anti-union activity, and UK law being based on US legislation, it will be relatively easy for US companies to persuade British companies that Trade Unions are not in their business interest.
There are an estimated 10,000 anti-union consultants in the United States, many are on their way to Britain because of the inherent anti-trade unionism in many UK businesses and in part due to the current legislation making Trade Unions ability to win recognition relatively easier. Demand for their services in this country is now booming, and that is before we actually leave the EU.
lt is well known through legal cases and media attention, that the building industry has been anti-trade union for years and was involved in major 'blacklisting' of employees with trade union membership and for raising genuine health and safety concerns. This caused hundreds if not thousands of people to be unemployable in the building industry.
But just who are these union-busting companies?
The largest of all is Texas based PTI Labor Research company which advocates Trade Union recognition avoidance campaigns, relocation and site selection as well as preparation for collective bargaining negotiations in order to advise the employer how best to reject demands of their employees and de-recognise the Trade Union.
Their website states:
'PTI Labor Research serves the needs of the Human Resources and Labor Relations community with powerful custom communications solutions including corporate and union specific videos, e-based communication tools, and in depth research services that support and enhance a Company’s union-free strategy. Our goal is to assist you in remaining union-free by utilizing information to promote a positive employee relations environment.'
They use anonymous campaign websites and social media accounts to support anti-union policies of individual companies, as stated on their website:
'Campaign Websites reinforce your campaign message in a format that preserves employee anonymity, enhances personalization and enables dynamic content solutions. Our cutting-edge technology will incorporate e-mail integration, custom programming, graphic design and remote usage tracking.
The firm first outlined its strategies to British managers at a conference on employment law in 2000 organised by the UK law firm Eversheds, a PTI representative spoke on anti-union strategies before numerous employers, believed to include McDonald's, Gap and Tower Records.
One of their biggest clients is Wallmart who own ASDA in the UK, along with Dupont, Sysco, Coca-Cola, and Marriott International; all of whom are present in the UK.
The classic tactic being employed in the US, and here too, is to gather all employees in a room show them anti-union videos, documentation and argue that bringing in a union will result in lower wages and terms and conditions and strikes. This will cost the company money and force it to make redundancies and cut wages.
They employ crude imagery of the 1970s so-called 'Winter of Discontent', the miner's strike of the '80s and other major disputes as if they will happen to any business allowing Trade Union membership.
Amazon has used one of these classic campaigns, but also produced a very sinister video questioning staff behaviours, friendships and telling managers to look out for staff expressing sudden concerns over terms and conditions and pay; as signs of Union recruitment activity within the workplace. They then tell managers, it is their duty to report any such changes in behaviour or friendships or questioning over pay and conditions; to senior HR managers.
Amazon's union busting manager's video was leaked and has created a storm amongst trade unions and civil liberty groups in the US.
Here is a taster of what the video teaches manager's who are encouraged to spy on employees:
With the opportunities for US based companies to do what they did in Canada following a 'free trade' agreement in the 1980s - bombard the country with cheap produce, take-overs of Canadian companies and a whole raft of lowered standards on food and environment; there is no reason to feel secure after we leave the EU in October and the Tory government moves to quickly agree anything and everything to get a US/UK trade deal.
It is not a matter of perhaps of time before major union-busting companies are over here in the UK, but a matter of certainty and of how soon after 31st October!
Source: YouTube / The Guardian / BBC News / PTI Labor Research / Amazon