TRADE UNION BILL UPDATE
The purpose of this LTB is to provide Branches with an update about recent developments on the Trade Union Bill.
The Bill has now completed its Committee stage in the House of Lords and its Report stage will take place over two days on 16th and 21st March. The Committee stage in the House of Lords is generally used to establish where there may be a consensus on making amendments to the Bill.
As a result of the week of protest and action from 8th-14th February and the lobbying being undertaken by the CWU and other unions, the government has come under pressure over a number of elements of the Bill. Because of this, during the Committee stage it indicated that it will consider accepting amendments on the following points in order to get the Bill through:
Allowing the use of electronic voting in some union ballots – it is not yet clear whether this could include industrial action ballots;
Keeping a one-week notice period for industrial action (instead of increasing this to a fortnight);
Extending the time limit being proposed for industrial action (the Bill would currently impose a limit of four months from the date of the ballot); and
Giving devolved governments in Scotland and Wales control over check-off and facility time in public services (preventing the UK government from scrapping these).
While these changes have not yet been confirmed and the Bill would still be a significant attack on trade unions, it should be recognised that these would be important amendments on these issues.
Alongside the Committee stage in the main House of Lords, a smaller Select Committee was established to examine the political clauses of the Bill in more detail – the government had attempted to avoid this additional scrutiny. This Committee published its report on 2nd March and has made three significant recommendations to the whole House:
That the proposed ‘opt-in’ for unions’ political funds, should apply to new members only (and not all members as the government wants);
That unions should have 12 months to implement this (not three months as the government is proposing); and
That members should not be required to ‘opt-in’ again every five years, which the Bill would currently require.
Although these are currently only recommendations to the House of Lords, it is clear that the government is coming under significant pressure over its attack on unions’ political funding.
Amendments that would give effect to all of the above points are likely to be debated when the Bill is before the House of Lords on 16th and 21st March and the Bill will subsequently need to be approved by the House of Commons. It is therefore important for Branches to continue to campaign and lobby Conservative MPs to make clear the strength of opposition to what the government is doing.
CWU ROLE IN TUC PROTEST WEEK
The above developments are a direct result of the campaigning efforts of trade unions during the TUC’s heartunions week from 8th-14th February and in particular on the day of protest on 11th February. The CWU had a significant level of engagement in this across all of our constituencies and thousands of members used the #CWUandProud hashtag online and many areas undertook recruitment and other campaign activities including public meetings, street stalls, leafleting, rallies and publicity stunts.
It is clear that the CWU played a leading role in publicising opposition to the Bill, which has been recognised across the movement, and I would like to thank all regions, branches, representatives and members who took part. For those branches that have not already seen this, on the 11th February we also projected an image highlighting the campaign onto the Houses of Parliament. Photos of this are attached to this LTB.
Branches will be kept up to date with further developments on the Bill and any queries on the contents of this LTB should be addressed to email@example.com
Share this with your friends