Trade Union Bill Amendments Prove Campaigning Works

This week has seen the third reading in the House of Lords and concessions from the Government as a result of amendments made in the Lords.

This shows the success of all of the campaigning that has been done by Trade Unions, their members, their leaders and those within the business community too and even some Tory MPs who feel that the TU Bill in its original form goes too far. Indeed the majority view within the business community has always been that there is no need for further anti-trade union legislation.

Electronic balloting is one such amendment which the government has in part succumbed to.

Yesterday’s announcement (Wednesday 27th April) by the
government of an independent review for electronic voting in strike ballots within the next six months has been welcomed, although it seems clear that the government is 100% against allowing Trade Unions to utilise a system they themselves allow Tory rank and file to use when electing the candidate for London Mayor and that some companies also use for the voting in absence at AGMs!

Despite this many doubt the Government will implement anything positive for Union members that comes from the review.

Commenting on the government concessions to their draconian and anti-Trade Union Bill, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“We are pleased ministers have listened to reason and committed to holding a review of electronic voting for strike ballots. 

However, if online balloting is secure enough for the Conservatives to use to select their candidate for London Mayor, there can be no excuse for delaying its introduction for union members."

She concluded on this point:

“It must be a case of when – and not if – trade unions are allowed to use modern balloting methods. We will continue to make this case forcibly.”

On the concession that ministers will delay imposing a cap on facility time in the public sector, Frances O’Grady said:

“We are also pleased that ministers have backed away from imposing a cap on union facility time, having originally planned to introduce this within six months of the Trade Union Bill becoming law.

Paid time off for public sector union reps to represent their members is granted by employers because it is good for staff well-being, improves communication and stops problems escalating into disputes."

The government also backed away from plans to ban workers from opting to pay their union subscriptions through payroll in the public sector – the so-called ‘check-off’ system. Further, they accepted a House of Lords compromise to delay controversial changes to union political funds, along with one of the most controversial element within the Bill; the banning of union fees being deducted from members wages.

The TUC welcomed government concessions on trade union political funds:

“This is another victory for common sense. We are pleased the government appears to have backtracked from implementing damaging changes to union political funds.

The Trade Union Bill still poses a threat to industrial relations. The TUC will continue to press for further changes to this divisive and unnecessary Bill, and urges MPs to oppose it in its entirety.” said General Secretary Frances O’Grady

Government back-tracking on banning union subscriptions through payroll (the so-called ‘check-off’ system) in the public sector is however, not so simple, because they have already done this in several civil service departments e.g. HMRC The question is, will they now re-instate this facility for PCS members working in this department?

Ministers announced in the House of Lords that check-off would not be prohibited, as originally intended, but that workers could continue to opt for check-off where unions reimburse any costs to the employer.

 TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: 

“Banning workers from choosing to pay union subs in a convenient way through their payroll would, as many have warned, damaged industrial relations and morale in key services. 

She concluded by saying:

“We welcome the range of concessions that the government has offered, but continue to oppose the Trade Union Bill in its entirety.”

Source: TUC / C Ingram (People’s MarchPics)

Posted: 1st January 2016

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