How unions are resisting the Trade Union Act
03 March 2017
The Trade Union Act 2016 came into force on Wednesday 01 March 2017, bring into effect some of the most draconian anti-union laws for decades (read more about the Act and its impact in our guide), and prompting unions up and down the country to set out their plans of resistance.
GMB’s General Secretary Tim Roache said his union would not allow the legislation to stop it from protecting the rights of workers.
“GMB continue to work tirelessly in the face of repression to build union power, fighting on the side of ordinary working people and taking on unscrupulous employers,” he said. “We desperately need rights at work fit for the Twenty First Century and our union at will be at the forefront of the battle to win them.”
Roache also promised GMB would not allow the new rules to sweep working people’s problems under the carpet: “Not a day goes by without new stories of exploitation and insecure employment in the so-called gig economy. If they think they will silence them, they’ve got another thing coming.”
Unite the Union announced the establishment of regional dispute teams to ensure that the Act did not lead to members losing access to justice. This is in addition to a new £35 million strike fund to support members involved in disputes, and the union’s rule change, which allows the union to take action to defend its members rights even if it is forced outside of the law by the new Act.
General Secretary of Unite, Len McCluskey, said: “There is no way that this union will allow a Conservative or any other government to further stack the dice against working people.”
“The Conservative party is fundamentally wrong in how it treats union members. There are six million of us, all with families and friends, so our reach is far further. We are not the `enemy within’. We are the people who care for our sick, our children and our communities, who keep our shops shelves stacked, keep our country defended and the lights on.”
Elsewhere, Unison’s Head of Policy Sampson Low told the Labour Research Department (LRD) that his union is looking at the practical measures it can take to limit the impact the Trade Union Act can have. “[Unison] is looking at ways of encouraging more people to cast their vote in strike ballots. This includes collecting more email addresses for members and trialling electronic voting in consultative ballots,” he told Labour Research magazine.