Sunday 18 October 2015

Campaign to defeat the Trade Union Bill

Unison members demonstrate against the Trade Union Bill
outside the Tory party conference in Manchester on
4th October 2015
Angus Council Branch is gearing up with UNISON Scotland to fight the Tory government’s Trade Union Bill, described by UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis as ‘the most draconian legislation in the western world’. The bill, which passed its second reading on 14 September, proposes huge restrictions on peaceful picketing and protests and is widely seen as an attack on basic human rights.

Angus’ branch secretary, Mavis Leask said: “The Trade Union Bill currently before the UK Parliament is unfair, unnecessary and undemocratic. MPs need to focus on the real problems the country faces and talk to us about how we can work together for a better future.”

UNISON is campaigning with the TUC and other unions to oppose this attack on the rights of working people and their unions.

The branch is urging members to sign the petition against the bill and also write to their MP (Mike Weir), their MSP and Regional MSPs (Angus North & Mearns, Angus South) and to join the national demonstrations against the bill

  • Trade Union Bill is a crude attempt to weaken trade unions and workers rights.
  • It runs contrary to the positive industrial relations culture in Scotland.
  • It should require the legislative consent of the Scottish Parliament.
  • There is broad opposition to the Bill.
  • Branches can take a range of actions now to support the campaign conditions

Workers will only be able to take strike action if 50% or more of eligible members vote in the industrial action ballot. For action in ‘important public services’ which includes health and education, 40% of all members eligible to vote would have to vote yes for a union to have a strike mandate. That means if 50% of members vote, 80% of those must vote yes. It is worth remembering that the government trying to bring this in was elected on only 24% of those eligible to vote.

For the first time in 40 years, employers will be able to break strikes by bringing in agency workers to cover for strikers - a move that could have serious safety implications, lead to worse public services, and undermine the right to strike.

Astonishingly, striking workers will have to tell their employers of all their plans - including what they will post on Facebook or Twitter - two weeks before they strike. So extreme are the proposals that there is wide support across Scotland to oppose them. Last week CoSLA announced: “Scotland’s Councils have come out in force today to stand shoulder to shoulder with their trade union colleagues against the UK Government’s Trade Union Bill.” Earlier Glasgow, Edinburgh and Renfrewshire councils voted not to co-operate with attacks on facility time or check-off (which enables union dues to be paid direct from wages).

Glen Anderson, chair of Angus Council UNISON branch, said: “The Trade Union Bill weakens our voice at work, and weakens our campaigning voice. It undermines the right to strike, union organisation and aims to make it harder for unions to win a fairer deal at work.”

“The bill has been described even by employer organisations as an outdated response. That is particularly true in post devolution Scotland.”

On October the 4th a huge demonstration took place at the Conservative Party conference and a further rally will be held on the 2nd November, with an event planned for Glasgow at the end of November. Dave Watson, UNISON Scotland’s head of bargaining and campaigns, added: “Both party leaders in Scotland have made the link between the bill and the Tory approach to the workplace generally. “They support the idea that employees working together for better wages, terms and conditions makes for a more productive workforce - good for business and good for society.

“Both the Scottish and the Welsh governments support UNISON’s position that, although industrial relations is a reserved matter, some parts of the bill will need legislative consent by devolved parliaments.”

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