16 July 2015
The Tories have published the draft Trade Union Bill.
Business secretary and ex-banker Sajid Javid unveiled the contents of the bill yesterday (Wednesday). The latest step in a 35 year long road, these plans show how hell-bent the Tories are on destroying workers’ remaining rights.
Under the Trade Union Bill:
- “Unlawful” or “Intimidatory” picketing will become a criminal, rather than civil, offence. A named official will be required to oversee the picket.
- Will empower the government to limit facility time
- Unions will have to renew any strike mandate every four months
- A strike will be unlawful unless 50 percent of those asked will have to vote in a ballot. In public services, health, education, fire, transport, border security, and energy sectors, 40 percent of all those asked will have to vote in favour.
- Unions will be required to give employers at least two weeks notice before the commencement of industrial action
- Employers will have the right to employ strike breaking agency staff
- The government certification officer will be able to fine unions as much as £20,000 for breached of reporting rules, including an annual audit on protests and pickets. The certification officer will have the power to initiate investigations, and will be in part funded by the unions themselves.
- All unions will have to ask their members to opt-in to the political levy every five years.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Today the government has slammed the door of David Cameron’s ‘One Nation’ Britain in the face of millions of trade unionists.
“These measures aim to deny working people a voice and to tilt power still further towards the rich and big business, who funded the Tory re-election campaign. Tory claims to be the `workers’ party’ can be seen fully for the fraud that they were.
“If the government is truly concerned about increasing participation in strike votes, then why not work with us to develop secure workplace balloting and introduce online voting, just as the Tories are doing with their London mayoral selection”.
General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“This Bill is an unnecessary attack on workers’ rights and civil liberties that will shift the balance of power in the workplace.
“Getting a pay rise or defending terms and conditions will become far harder for working people. Even when ballots meet the government’s new thresholds, employers will soon be able to break strikes by bringing in agency workers.
“If ministers were really interested in improving workplace democracy they would commit to online balloting. However, they would rather silence protests against their cuts to children’s centres, libraries and social care services.
“These new restrictions on facility time will make it more much difficult for trade unions to solve problems at work before they escalate into disputes.
“Making it a criminal offence for seven people to be on a picket line is a waste of police time and not something you would expect in a country with a proud tradition of liberty.”