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Trade unions demand right to Facebook

It's like the Tolpuddle Martyrs all over again

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The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has today called on employers to reconsider outright bans that have been slapped on popular web time-killers Facebook, Bebo and MySpace.

While legal, the embargos are an "over-reaction" to the rise of social networking, according to the unions. Intstead, clear policies should be agreed which allow reasonable online gossiping, poking, and general mucking about during break times. Facebook and its kin are just the modern version of water cooler chat, the TUC argues.

Increasing numbers of IT departments are blocking the sites as board rooms wise up to the hype around social networking. Research earlier this month suggested that about half of employers already restrict access to Facebook. Users often expose too much personal information too, it's claimed.

Web hipster and TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Simply cracking down on use of new web tools like Facebook is not a sensible solution to a problem, which is only going to get bigger.

"It's unreasonable for employers to try to stop their staff from having a life outside work, just because they can't get their heads around the technology."

The TUC also cautioned employers who might be tempted to check out job applicants' profiles because they could fall foul of equal opportunity laws. Only a minority of candidates may have a profile, which could unfairly help or hinder them.

The calls came as the TUC released its new guidance on social networking for staff here and for employers here (PDF).

An old Vulture writes: There is no doubt the TUC's groundbreaking dictat on social networking sites will help the UK's union movement shake off its unwarranted and erroneous "dinosaur" image and contribute to the revival of the UK's heavy industrial base. If only Arthur Scargill, Red Robbo, Joe Gormley and their cohorts had had access to Bebo and Friends Reunited we'd still be enjoying the three day week, driving British Leyland cars and singing along to Billy Bragg in the dark.®

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