Unions say they will continue to fight the rest of the Trade Union Bill

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, CWU, Union busting

social media Twitter FacebookThe government has dropped its controversial plans to make strikers give two week’s notice on their use of social media to police and employers.

Unions welcomed the news, but vowed to continue to oppose other aspects of the Trade Union Bill.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government is clearly beginning to feel the pressure to amend this draconian and unnecessary bill. It was a ridiculous plan to make unions give two weeks’ notice on their use of Facebook and Twitter during strikes and to spell out a fortnight ahead what would be written on protest placards.

“However, the announcement doesn’t change the fact that this Bill is a huge threat to civil liberties. Picket supervisors will still have to give their name and contact details to the police, and unions still face court injunctions and possible damages if an organiser forgets to wear an armband.

“The fundamental right to strike remains under attack. Ministers are pushing ahead with plans to allow employers to break strikes with agency workers, and to tie unions up in red tape.

“We will continue to oppose this damaging legislation each and every inch of the way.”

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said “This is a tactical move that the government was always likely to make. We cannot allow this apparent concession to take away attention from what is a vicious and uncalled for attack on working people. Britain does not need protection from trade unions – it needs protection from the Tories.”

Despite the announcement, trade unions still face the risk of legal challenge (injunctions stopping the picket) and fines if a union supervisor fails to:

  • wear an armband
  • carry a letter of approval from their union
  • show the letter of approval to their employer or representative (which could include security firms)

In addition, the government still plans to:

  • lift the ban on the use of agency workers during strikes
  • stop union membership subs being deducted from payroll in the public sector
  • cap time off for trade union reps in the public sector
  • update the code of practice on picketing

The next stages of the Trade Union Bill will be debated by MPs on Tuesday 10 November.

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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