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U.K. to Begin Review of Trade Union Practices With Reduced Remit

A review of U.K. trade union practices first announced in November and due to report by May is now ready to begin work, with a reduced remit.

The study, by industrial relations lawyer Bruce Carr, had originally been tasked to look at the behavior of the Unite trade union during a dispute at Ineos Group Holdings SA’s Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland. It will now be restricted to looking at “extreme tactics” such as picketing the homes of executives, and whether laws should be changed.

Announcing the scope of Carr’s research, Business Secretary Vince Cable said he wanted “balanced input from both sides” in order to ensure that “strong industrial relations” were at the heart of the U.K.’s economic recovery. Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, attacked the review.

“This review may have been announced with great fanfare,” she said in an e-mailed statement, “but the delay in setting it up, the limited terms of reference and the exclusion of the promised consideration of employer behavior, such as blacklisting, confirms that it was never anything more than a headline grabbing party-political stunt.”

Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party has repeatedly attacked the opposition Labour Party over its links with Unite, the trade union involved in the Grangemouth dispute.

Unite, which is one of Labour’s largest donors, has developed a tactic it calls “leverage,” in which it targets customers, investors and other contacts of businesses that it deems to be behaving “immorally.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alan Crawford at Mark Williams, Ben Holland

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