News Brief #killthebill

Submitted by claudiaobrien on Fri, 25/09/2015 - 22:45

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By Claudia O’Brian


The News Brief is back after summer recess, and what a summer it has been;
the escalating refugee crisis was met with a shameful response by the Tory government. However despite the hateful agenda of the right-wing press, public opinion turned in favour of internationalism and compassion. The widespread smear campaign and scaremongering against Corbyn was similarly rejected, and the Labour party elected a leader that represents its members and working people, and stands up for the unions. He said to TUC conference; “I am a proud trade unionist. That is why we will fight this bill all the way, and if we win a majority in 2020 we are going to repeal this bill.”

While the media was doing its best to distract us with the banal fact that Corbyn didn’t sing the national anthem, the Trade Union Bill passed its second reading. However, as Frances O’Grady said; “While the vote is very disappointing, the campaign against this bill is far from over.  We will continue to oppose it at each stage through Parliament. And it was good to hear MPs from across the house recognise the huge threat this bill poses to civil liberties and fair treatment at work”.

The IER’s will be covering events and updates on the Trade Union Bill on twitter. Take a look back, and follow us here.

John Hendy QC says that this Bill is “an attack on the rights of unions having an industrial voice” that also aims to exclude “unions from having a political voice” as well as “an effective voice in civil society.” “Modern economists have pointed out that high levels of collective bargaining and high levels of workplace rights actually are conducive to a good economy […] this Bill is shooting the economy in the foot.” The Bill can be considered “illegal in the sense that these proposals are in breach of international treaties which Britain has ratified and therefore in breach of international law.”

Professor Keith Ewing says that this Bill is “the most serious attack on trade union freedom in a generation.” In particularly it is “a massive attack on public sector trade unionism.” There are 3 major attacks on public sector trade unionism and these attacks are “one attacking financial security, two attacking workplace representation and thirdly attacking the right to strike.” The Bill is “a serious attack on the human rights of trade unions and civil liberties of trade unions. And a serious attack on the right to freedom of political expression.” It is “an extraordinary step backwards into the middle ages in terms of constitutional principle.”

#killthebill on social media

#killthebill on has taken off on twitter, with a widespread and voracious opposition mountain. Check out #killthebill for responses, events and updates.

The TUC’s view

“Trade unions play a vital role in representing millions of workers, making sure they are treated fairly at work. And that works because employers and employees both have some power. Employers have to negotiate with workers – because the workers can take strike action if their employers don’t.
If this bill passes, the right to strike will be under threat. That’ll upset the power balance at work. Ordinary workers won’t have any power to stand up to their bosses – even when they’re being unreasonable. And that’ll mean worse pay and conditions for everyone, and workers unable to raise concerns about service cuts and safety.”

Take a look at our summary of this years TUC conference here

The Video

John Hendy QC and Keith Ewing discuss the Trade Union Bill. Watch it here.


Pre-Strike Ballots and the Trade Union Bill 2015: Denying Workers the Right to Strike?

By Alan Bogg, Ruth Dukes and Tonia Novitz

The Government’s indecently short consultation procedure on the important issues of restricting the right to strike, using agency workers as strike-breakers and curtailing the freedom and civil liberties of working people to publicly protest ends tomorrow (9 September 2015). The IER will be responding to each consultation as best we can given the restrictive nature of the questions and the inadequate response forms. Here we offer a critique of the Government’s proposals on strike ballot thresholds.

Read More…


Forthcoming Events

Labour Party Conference 2015 Fringe Meeting

The IER and the Campaign for Trade Union Rights will be holding a Labour Party conference fringe meeting, on union responses to the Trade Union Bill. Speakers include Len McCluskey, Angela Eagle MP, and political director of Unite Jenny Fornby.

Brighton: Monday 28th September 2015, 12.30pm

Tory Conference Demo Pre-Rally: Protect the Right to Strike

The demo at Tory conference in Manchester is set to be huge – Instead of waiting around in the cold for kickoff, join us beforehand for a meeting in the pub. The IER has got together a wide range of speakers to discuss the Trade Union Bill, and how we can fight it, at the Oxford, just round the corner from the TUC rallying point.

The Oxford, 421-423 Oxford Road, M13 9WG: Tuesday 4th October 2015, 12pm

Two new books on the Trade Union Bill

The Conservative Government’s proposed strike ballot thresholds: The challenge to trade unions

By Professor Ralph Darlington and Dr John Dobson

According to the authors of this timely report, the government is attempting to rush into law ‘the most sweeping and radical tightening of rules on industrial action since the Thatcher era of the 1980’s’. They warn that such proposals could result in ‘the biggest showdown over industrial relations for a generation’ and go on to drill down into one aspect of the government’s proposals – strike ballots.

Protect the right to strike: kill the bill

By Professor Keith Ewing and John Hendy QC

The publication first explores the justification and underlying motivation for the introduction of new tougher strike ballot laws before questioning whether the technical measure proposed would increase balloting turn-outs. The pamphlet then retrospectively applies the new laws to previously held ballots by analysing a database the authors have compiled of ballots over the period 1997-2015. They conclude that the new legislation will make it very difficult for unions to mount officially sanctioned strikes in response to government-initiated austerity measures, especially those relating to national bargaining in the public sector and end by reflecting on the unions’ potential responses to the new legislation.

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