UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Lord Wedderburn Co-founder of the Institute of Employment Rights - Obituary

The Guardian today includes an obituary for one of the names, although possibly unknown to most trade union activists, that was one of the most influential in the UK in the world of employment law.

His famous quote 'all that a worker requires of the law is that it leaves him alone' was in direct opposition to the thinking of the anti trade union legislators of the Thatcher Government. He led the arguments against the interference of law in industrial relations, arguing that trade unions needed the immunity from law that had existed in the UK since the infamous Taff Valley Rail Case in 1905 that allowed employers to sue trade unions for lost business due to strikes.

An advisor to the Wilson Government in the 1970s he was also the leading author of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act of 1974 and led a number of powerful academic attacks on the economics of the Austrian right wing economist Frederick Hayek - a much beloved prophet of the Thatcherites.

In the House of Lords he was active in supporting Labour employment law proposals although he was mildly disappointed in their failure to repeal much of the legislation of the 1980s

He was also a life long supporter of Charlton Athletic - hence the title.