Frances O’Grady says Bills tilts the balance in the workplace too far towards the employers

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, Union busting

ParliamentThe TUC today urges MPs to vote against the Trade Union Bill.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This Bill threatens the basic right to strike. It’ll allow employers to bus in agency temps to break strikes, and will bring in big new restrictions on picketing and protests during a strike – including unions having to tell the police and employers what they will post on Facebook or Twitter two weeks in advance.

“Strikes are always a last resort. No-one wants to go on strike – and most disputes are settled long before it gets to that point. But the right to strike is crucial to bring employers to the negotiating table.

“Threatening the right to strike tilts the balance in the workplace too far towards the employers. And that will mean workers can’t stand up for decent services and safety at work, or defend their jobs or pay.

“I urge all fair-minded MPs across the House to vote against the second reading of the Bill today.”

TUC polling published last week found that:

  • 65 per cent of the public think that employers using temporary workers as cover during strikes will give permanent workers less power to defend their pay and conditions at work.
  • 77 per cent of the public think making it compulsory for unions to give two weeks’ notice if they intend to use a loudspeaker or carry a banner during a strike is a “bad use of police time”.
  • 72 per cent think forcing unions to submit what they are planning to post on Facebook, Twitter and on blogs during a strike two weeks in advance to the police would be a “bad use of police time”.
  • 60 per cent of the public (and 79 per cent of trade unionists) think making the lead person on a peaceful picket line give their name to their employer will have a negative effect on that person’s career.

On Thursday 10 September former Business Secretary Vince Cable said the Trade Union Bill was “vindictive” and had “no evidence base at all”.

And on Monday 7 September, leading human rights groups warned that the Trade Union Bill is “a major attack on civil liberties in the UK”. In a joint statement Liberty, Amnesty International and the British Institute of Human Rights said the bill “would hamper people’s basic rights to protest and shift even more power from the employee to the employer.”

On Friday 21 August, the Regulatory Policy Committee – an independent body appointed by the government which verifies the costs and savings of proposed changes to businesses and civil society – slammed the government’s trade union proposals impact assessments as “red – not fit for purpose”.

The RPC found that the government had not made the case for any changes in the law on trade union picketing and protest – including proposals to make unions give 14 days’ advance notice of whether their members will use Twitter or Facebook during protests.

The RPC said that ‘there is little evidence presented that there will be any significant benefits arising from this proposal’ and ‘the definition of the problem currently appears weak and must be substantiated’.

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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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