I wanted to write to say a heartfelt thanks for all your support so far in the campaign against the Trade Union Bill. We had a big result in the House of Commons last night, with confirmation of further government climbdowns to add to wins over the last 10 months.
Last night, minister Nick Boles announced to the House that the government would:
ABANDON plans to ban union subscriptions via payroll (check-off), provided the union pays payment processing costs (as many already do).
CONCEDE safeguards against politicisation of the union regulator (Certification Officer) and reduce its costs to unions.
WATER DOWN plans to restrict union political funds. Changes will no longer apply to existing members, and costs and effort will be much reduced.
AGREE TO a review of online methods for strike ballots. This would help increase turnouts.
ADD SAFEGUARDS to a new power to cap union facility time. This could happen now only after at least 3 years research and negotiation.
This adds to concessions already made to:
DROP extreme measures to restrict protest, pickets and social media campaigns.
ABANDON plans to make everyone on a picket show personal data to the police, employers or anyone who asks for it.
SCALE BACK the double threshold for strike ballots in “important public services”, to avoid capturing hundreds of thousands of ancillary workers.
Make no mistake, there are still some very harmful proposals that could become law, but the bill that passed the Commons today was hugely reduced from what the government originally proposed – an amazing turnabout for a flagship bill at the start of a new parliament.
Next step is to see if the Lords will insist on points the government refused last night. And then there will be arguments to come on the mass of secondary regulations and codes of practice still to be published.
But today is a day to be proud. None of these positive changes would have happened without trade unionists and supporters uniting to mount a huge campaign. You and tens of thousands of others marched, emailed, signed petitions, held local events, joined consultations, told personal stories in a billboard campaign, and took part in the biggest ever mass lobby of MPs.
There’s more to do, but trade unionists and campaigners everywhere can feel justly proud today in what we’ve achieved so far.
Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary