On Tuesday evening, the House of Lords struck a blow for the rights of unions. As chair of the Trade Union Group of MPs, Ian recognises the importance of this victory.
Continuing the ‘check off’ system ensures that union members in the public sector will find that paying their membership fees remains simple. That the government sought to needlessly complicate the process shows why millions of ordinary working people feel under attack from this government.
The entire bill remains an unnecessary attack on a democratic movement. Even with this victory, the bill will see the right to strike curbed, members of the public put at risk and already draconian laws tightened further.
Bringing in agency workers to undermine strike action is a practice that endangers people using the service as well as undermining the fundamental right to strike. It is damaging to unions and threatens public safety.
The laws in Britain governing trade unions are already the most restrictive in the developed world. To strengthen them further will drive industrial relations to a new low. Many aspects of this bill aren’t just unfair, but are hypocritical. The threshold turnout for example, how many MPs would keep their seats if there was a minimum 50% turnout? How can the Conservatives come out against online balloting for strikes when their candidate for Mayor of London was selected by online ballot? The Tories are showing that they are committed to re-fighting the battles of the 1980s, while the TUC and the wider movement are seeking to represent workers in the 21st century.
The bill is one of the most divisive and partisan pieces of legislation brought before parliament. It is simply another power grab by central government, and will affect the ability of the ordinary working people who make up trade unions to have their voices heard.
The treatment of the trade union movement is a barometer for the health of democracy. This clampdown on our right to organise to defend jobs & communities remains morally indefensible. We urge the government to reconsider the approach they have taken.