TUC Sets Out Changes Government Have Been Forced To Make On TU Bill

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady: 'Much More To Do On TU Bill'

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady: ‘Much More To Do On TU Bill’

The TUC has published a detailed list of changes the government has been forced to accept to the partisan Trade Union Bill.

The TUC says “there is still some why to go – but the bill is now much shorter – shorn of some of the most damaging proposals”.

The government has to date has:

  • Dropped extreme measures to restrict protest, such as giving employers detailed plans for pickets and social media campaigns two weeks in advance, or making everyone on a picket line show their personal data to the police, employers or anyone who asked to see it.
  • Scaled Back the double threshold for strike ballots in “important public services”, to avoid capturing hundreds of thousands of ancillary workers.
  • Abandoned plans to ban union subscriptions via payroll (check-off), provided the union pays payment processing costs (as many already do).
  • Conceded safeguards against politicisation of the role of the union regulator (Certification Officer) and reduced its costs to unions.
  • Watered Down plans to restrict union political funds. Changes will no longer apply to existing members, and the cost and effort of new requirements will be much reduced.
  • Agreed to a review of letting unions use online methods for strike ballots. This would help increase turnouts, as we know postal balloting suppresses them.
  • Added safeguards to a new reserve power to cap union facility time. This will happen now only after at least 3 years of research and negotiation with employers.

As the TUC says there are still some harmful proposals that could become law, including:

  • Unfair strike ballot turnout thresholds – including a huge double threshold for so-called “important public services”.
  • Rules about identifying picket leaders to police that worry trade unionists in light of the construction blacklisting scandals.
  • New membership rules that seem to be designed to cost unions time and money, and increase employers’ opportunities to use the courts to stop strikes.

The TUC comments that the “next step is to see if the Lords will insist on their amendments that the government refused. But even if the bill passes, there will still be arguments to come on the mass of secondary regulations and codes of practice still to be published.

And there will be a major battle around the proposals to remove the long-standing ban on employers using agency workers to break strikes. This was never part of the bill, but progressing alongside it. It’s disappeared for now, but we suspect it will be back.

“There is more to do” says TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady “but union members everywhere can feel justly proud today in what we’ve achieved – and in what that tells us about the power, relevance and vitality of our trade union movement”.

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