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03 September 1997

Most top firms recognise unions
Forty-two out of the largest 45 UK firms recognise unions at some level, according to a new survey by Labour Research magazine. The list includes the largest UK employer - supermarket chain Tesco - among a raft of household name companies, who between them employ 2.2 million workers.

The study examines all firms which employ over 25,000 workers in the UK. It shows only three of the 45 are virtual union-free zones - retailers Marks and Spencer and John Lewis and restaurant chain McDonalds.

And although two - J Sainsbury and Burton - only give unions rights for consultation or individual representation, the remainder provide full union recognition in parts or all of their business.

At Tesco - which employs 154,000 workers - shopworkers' union USDAW has full recognition rights. Other large retailers recognising unions include Asda, Safeway and Kingfisher (which owns Woolworth and Comet).

The list also includes the big four clearing banks, all of which recognise finance union BIFU among other unions, and other well known companies such as BT, Rentokil, British Airways and BMW- Rover.

The findings come as the TUC and CBI thrash out proposals for a law obliging companies to grant union recognition if a majority of the workforce want it. The government is to prepare a white paper based on their proposals this autumn.

BIFU has promised it will be one the first to test any new law on behalf of its membership among Midland Bank managers. The bank scrapped union recognition for the 9,000 managers last year but the members are "very determined and robust" about restoring it, according to the union.

Notes to editors

A full list of the top 45 companies with recognised unions is published in the enclosed September 1997 issue of Labour Research magazine.
The Labour Research Department is an independent trade union and labour movement organisation founded 83 years ago. More than 2,000 trade union organisations, including 54 national unions, representing 99% of total TUC membership are affiliated. The price of a single copy of Labour Research is ?2.85 including postage.
For more details contact Richard Pond on 0171 902 9812.

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