European Commission of Human Rights

Ian McLean Young, Noël Henry James and Ronald Roger Webster v. United Kingdom

14 December 1979

[1980] E.C.C. 332

The three applicants had been employed by British Rail for [unintelligible] years, 2 years and 18 years respectively before being dismissed by their employer because they refused to join the designated trade union under a closed shop agreement concluded the previous year between their employer, British Rail, and three railway unions (the National Union of Railwaymen–NUR, the Transport and Salaried Staffs Association–TSSA and the Associated Society for Locomotive Engineers and Firemen–ASLEF). Mr. Young was ordered to join the TSSA or the NUR, Mr. James the NUR and Mr. Webster the TSSA or the NUR. The commission held that because the UK legislation allowed dismissal on such grounds the United Kingdom was in breach of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, since that Article gives to workers the freedom to choose whether to belong to a given trade union or not.