The government’s Trade Union Bill has finished its parliamentary journey and is now an Act. We didn’t manage to defeat the entire bill, but we did manage to remove several elements of it that would have irrevocably damaged the trade union movement. The final act looks drastically different from when it was proposed last year. To achieve that, UNISON ran a campaign to be proud of.
UNISON members across the UK took part. There were marches in major cities, members visited their MPs and wrote to their local councillors, others attended Parliament for a mass lobby, there was a week of action in February, and much more.
UNISON emphasised that trade unions have a positive impact on the workplace, and that trade union members are the very people who can solve the country’s economic problems. We said that MPs needed to focus on the real problems the country faces and talk to us about how we can work together for a better future.
The key changes won were:
- union members can continue to pay their subs via payroll if they wish. The government withdrew plans to ban public sector workers from having their union subs deducted from their wages (check-off);
- plans to give the Certification Officer (who regulates trade unions) unnecessary power over unions and to charge unions to fund it were watered down;
- plans to restrict union political funds (which fund our work with the Labour Party as well as local campaigns, such as saving local hospitals) were watered down. The changes in funding policy will now only apply to new members and the costs and effort will be much reduced;
- the government agreed to a review of online methods for strike ballots, which would help increase turnouts;
- plans to cap union public sector facility time have been watered down. They will now only happen in occasional cases, after at least three years of research and negotiation with ministers.
These added to concessions already made to:
- drop extreme measures to restrict protest, pickets and social media campaigns;
- abandon plans to make everyone on a picket show personal data to the police, employers or anyone who asks for it;
- the 40% strike ballot threshold will not apply to union members working in ancillary services that support important public services.
Though this bill is still a damaging and undemocratic piece of legislation, we should be proud of the campaign we have run.
Read the full UNISON press release here.