Trade Union Bill stumbles in House of Commons

Published: 29 April 2016 Ezine

Last month Nick Boles, the minister for skills and equality, announced to the House of Commons 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 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 three years of research and negotiation.
  • Concede safeguards against politicisation of the union regulator (Certification Officer) and reduce costs to unions.

These concessions add to previous compromises:

  • Drop 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.

The next step is to see if the Lords will insist on points the government refused last night. Then there will be arguments to come on the mass of secondary regulations and codes of practice still to be published.

Paul Bromley, a regional officer for the Society who has been monitoring the Bill’s progress said, “These changes are brilliant and should be celebrated but there are still unacceptable aspects of the Bill that we shall keep fighting.

“The next stage is when the Bill returns to the Lords and we shall again need the support of SoR members.”

Click here to read about the campaign and where the legislation now stands in a blog by Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s General Secretary.