Trade Union Bill - Oppose this attack on workers' rights

14 September 2015 - 4:30pm

The government's notorious Trade Union Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons by 33 votes and will now go to committee stage. We are opposing the Bill alongside unions and others committed to ensuring everyone’s right to decent work. This bill would fundamentally harm trade union rights in the UK and would severely weaken our Unions.

Strikes would be unlawful unless there was 50% turnout in the ballot with public sector strikes also requiring the backing of at least 40% of those eligible to vote. Employers would be able to use agency temp workers to break strikes and there would be severe constraints on peaceful protest and picketing. A consultation document for the Bill suggests workers would have to wear an armband or badge to identify themselves in a protest!

Even Tory MP David Davis has called some of the measures “draconian” such as the outrageous requirement for picketers to give their names to the police and notify any planned use of Twitter and Facebook.

The government would also have powers to restrict the work of union safety reps and shop stewards in the public sector. Crucially, the Bill could harm union membership there too. Union members usually pay their union subscriptions by deduction from their pay at source. The money is then passed direct to the union by their employer. This arrangement is known as 'check off’. The Bill would end this simple facility in the public sector and require all unions to undertake a costly separate membership sign on.

Overall the Bill is a shocking attack on the power of UK workers to challenge their employers.

Trade unions protect the ordinary worker against poor conditions, low pay and unfair dismissal. Over the centuries, workers who organised themselves into unions have fought corporate power to give us the weekend, the eight-hour day, paid holidays, paid sick leave, paid maternity leave and pretty much every other working right we now enjoy.

The UK is not alone in seeing government attempts to protect corporate rights over workers. War on Want works together with unions in sweatshops and workplaces around the world - in countries such as China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Zambia, Honduras and Colombia - to demand respect for the rights of workers.

Workers can win the fight for their rights. But in the UK the Government wants to push this Bill through the Houses of Parliament as fast as possible. Please don’t let them! Write to your MPs by taking the TUC action.  And come join us on 4th at the national march and Rally in Manchester and at the Westminster march on 2 November in London

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