HC Deb 12 March 1980 vol 980 c628W
Mr. Leighton

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if, further to his answer to the hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Howell) Official Report, 25 February, column 413, relating to the operation of the closed shop in other European Economic Community countries, he will publish in the Official Report details of the legal provisions which make the closed shop unlawful in Belgium, France and Italy and list those industries in those countries where it nevertheless exists.

Mr. Mayhew

I understand that the position in Belgium, France and Italy is as follows:

Belgium A statute of 1921 on the principle of freedom of association is generally held to imply that it would be unlawful to oblige anyone to belong to a particular trade union. Belgian workers may also sue their employer for unfair dismissal where dismissal is effected for reasons unconnected with capability, conduct or the operational needs of the undertaking. I understand that closed shop situations are rare but where they do exist they are the result of informal arrangements and are most likely to be found in the docks, ship repairing, steel and printing industries.

France Article 413 of the "Code du Travail" renders null and void any agreement which requires workers to belong to a particular trade union. Other provisions of the code prohibit employers from taking account of a worker's union membership in connection with recruitment, dismissal etc. I understand that some form of closed shop practice may exist in Parisian newspapers and in the docks.

Italy Article 15 of the Workers Statute of 1970 makes null and void any agreement or act which has the purpose of requiring a worker to join, refrain from joining, or leave a trade union. No information is available about the prevalence of closed shops in particular industries save that they are virtually unknown.