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LAWYERS set off to Blackpool at the weekend to take part in John Monks' new-look TUC conference.
TUC solicitors Russell Jones & Walker, represented by managing partner John Webber and partner Fraser Whitehead, will advise on the legality of conference motions and decisions.
Whitehead says: "We will be there in our official capacity as TUC lawyers to help with any problems which may arise during the conference." The firm is holding a reception on Tuesday night at which client-unions Unison and TSSA, among others, are expected to be present.
A TUC spokesman says: "There are now between 400 and 500 unions offering legal services to members."
But some unions fear legal bills could become too great a burden. The National Union of Journalists has exceeded its legal budget by three times, spending more than u250,000 on tribunals and advice.
A senior official says: "These lawyers are fleecing us." He predicts a return to strike action as a means of defending members' interests.
General secretary Monks wants to stem the 10-year decline in union membership by encouraging unions to place greater emphasis on the legal and financial services they offer to members.