UK LABOUR laws encourage bad employment practices and provide employers with a "licence to exploit" workers, the Trades Union Congress claims.
Speaking at last week's Employment Lawyers Association annual lecture, TUC general secretary John Monks told more than 200 practitioners that major pieces of employment legislation introduced in recent years had "whittled away" workers' rights and restricted the work that trade unions could do on behalf of their members.
"Unfair laws do not improve industrial relations or help build the commitment and co-operation that is a pre-requisite for economic success," said Monks.
"In Britain today when citizens enter the workplace they leave their democratic rights at the door," Monks added.
"No one can deny that the balance of power between employer and employee has become overwhelmingly biased in favour of the boss."
Monks put forward TUC proposals for new legal rights to representation for all workers. He told delegates that "decent" employers would not be affected by the plans.
He called for individual representation, the right in certain cases for workers to speak with a collective voice to employers, and the right for some matters to be covered by a collective agreement.
"The TUC's proposals combine the traditions of British industrial relations with the European approach of negotiated flexibility."