Financial Times says ministers may drop requirement of unions to give two week’s notice of Twitter and Facebook postings

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, FBU, Union busting

social media Twitter FacebookThe government may scrap plans to force trade unions to reveal to police two weeks in advance anything they plan to place on social media during a strike.

The bid to control strikers’ Twitter and Facebook posts are among the most controversial aspects of the Trade Union Bill, which has criticised by unions and civil rights groups including Amnesty International and Liberty.

But now the Financial Times is reporting: “One Whitehall source said it was almost certain that the social media plans would not make it through.”

Unions are reacting cautiously to the news, with FBU general secretary Matt Wrack saying: “Although not confirmed at this point it is a positive sign that the government cannot even convince Conservative backbench MPs of the ludicrous social media aspects of the Trade Union Bill.

“They now need to recognise the other draconian aspects of the Bill which will make it almost impossible for trade unions to represent their members.”

And the TUC’s  digital manager John Wood said: If the news of a U-turn is true, it’s good that they have seen sense on this, but we’re far from satisfied about what’s left. The picketing campaign plans still have ludicrous amounts of impractical details designed to trip unions up offline, even if the online clauses are improved.

“Unions will still have to tell employers where pickets or protests will occur; how many will be there; whether they’ll have a megaphone; and so on. They’ll still have to give activists’ names to the police and employers, and appoint picket supervisors, who need to wear armbands and carry letters of authorisation at all times, which must be shown to anyone who asks.

“The overall effect will be to make protests and pickets unworkable or easier to challenge, and to scare workers out of getting involved for fear of doing the wrong thing and landing the union a huge fine, or being reported to their employer and being punished for it.

“There’s nothing good in the Trade Union Bill, and we’ll be opposing all of it in our evidence to the Bill committee this Thursday. There’s a lot else to dislike, from letting employers use agency temps to undermine striking workers, to unfair ballot hurdles that don’t apply to other types of vote. And so far it’s ruling out potential good things like allowing unions to use secure online and workplace balloting to increase turnouts and accountability.”


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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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