The Tories’ Trade Union Bill will ramp up Britain’s anti-union laws, already among the most repressive in Europe. Liberty and the British Institute of Human Rights have condemned the Bill as an attack on civil rights. The Tories’ aim is to finally destroy the welfare state by breaking the public sector unions’ resistance, to create permanent legal obstacles to effective strike action and to slash trade unionists’ rights to unionise and to support political parties, cutting funds to Labour while financiers continue to pour millions into the Tories’ coffers.
The Bill will:
- Double the notice period for strike action to two weeks
- Impose legal requirements undermining and harassing pickets
- Allow bosses to use agency labour to break strikes
- Abolish “check off” of union dues and cut facility time for reps
- Give the Certification Officer more powers to investigate and intimidate unions
- Require members to rejoin their union’s political fund every five years
The Bill also requires a 50 per cent turnout and, in “essential services” 40 per cent of union members to vote for strike action. This when the Tories got elected with only 23 per cent support in the electorate!
To combat this, the TUC voted for “generalised” strike action in September and set a day of action for 2 November, just before the Bill’s third and final reading — but called no strikes.
The last few days have seen unofficial walkouts in Plymouth Royal Mail over the overuse of agency staff and at London university SOAS in defence of sacked rep Sandy Nicoll.
This shows we can defeat the Bill. But the rank and file will have to take action alongside the unions officials where possible and without them where necessary.