13 August 2015
Parliament is in summer recess, but one of the first events in the calendar for MPs’ return will be the second reading of the Trade Union Bill.
The insidious nature of the bill is clear to see – the Bill contains a comprehensive mass of legislation intended to suffocate the trade union movement, annihilate collective bargaining, and transform the right to strike into a meaningless platitude.
Over 100 UK academics have signed a letter expressing deep concern over the bills’ contents. The letter, describes the bill as “the most sustained attack on trade union and workers’ rights since the Combination Laws of the early 19th Century”.
The letter states;
“Trade unions in Britain are not too strong, but too weak. They provide an important voice for the expression and protection of workers’ terms and conditions of employment and are a countervailing force against the excesses of employer power. They can also contribute to innovation, skills-upgrading and workplace performance. Given the fact the UK labour market is already one of the most flexible and least regulated in the global economy, evidence in support of the Bill is seriously wanting. By further undermining the collective bargaining power of unions, it will feel into the labour market by increasing endemic low-pay and insecure terms and conditions of employment among non-unionised workers. Instead, the Government should be looking more seriously at how to engage and involve the British workforce and its representatives in rebuilding the UK economy and raising productivity through fairer and more supportive rights for workers”
Commenting on the letter, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“It’s clear that the government’s Trade Union Bill threatens the right to strike.
“If it passes, employers will be able to break strikes by bringing in agency workers to cover for strikers. This could have big safety implications, lead to worse public services, and will make the threat to strike all but redundant.
“And the proposed restrictions on peaceful picketing and protests are excessive. They mean that striking workers will have to tell their employer all their plans – including what they will post on Facebook – two weeks before the strike.
“All these changes, taken together, threaten the right to strike – and that means that workers won’t be able to defend jobs or services, or stand up for safety and decency at work.”