Can this be true? A Bill that will effectively castrate the workers’ ability to have their voices heard
The Trade Union Bill passed its second reading last Monday with a 317 to 284 vote, leaving many outraged and ready to take a stand.
Its second passing comes as a shock to many, especially those like Diane Abbot who consider the Bill, ‘an attack on the rights of working people across the UK’. And she’s not alone. Many consider the Bill a work of archaic and oppressive legislation. It’s seen as an ideological attack by the right-wing members of Parliament dead-set on restricting the rights of everyday people in the UK.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady calls the Bill, ‘the most draconian, the most ideological, the most right-wing assault on organised labour in any advanced industrial democracy in living memory’.
And yet, this Bill continues to make its way through Parliament, its next step being the Committee stage.
But to understand the outrage, it’s imperative to understand the Bill itself—to understand the restrictions it places on union workers and the unrestrained power it gives to the supervisors of these unions.
The Bill begins with the topic of striking and the introduction of a turnout threshold. It introduces a 50 per cent voting threshold for union ballots turnouts, and counts anyone who abstains from voting as a vote on the side of ‘no’ instead of simply not including that vote at all. Also, ‘40% of those entitled to vote must vote in favour of industrial action in certain essential public services (health, education, fire, transport)’.
The new rules restrict voting and pressure workers to vote in a way that may not necessarily represent their actual beliefs.
Employers are also allowed, with this Bill, to hire agency workers to replace those who leave work to strike.
Members of the trade union must be present in person when votes are cast or strikes are being decided upon. According to this Bill, it is unacceptable to reach a member by phone or email, meaning the number of votes will greatly diminish making it even harder for unions to make the changes they are fighting for in the first place.
The Bill also outlines an increase in time limits, doubling the amount of time given as a strike notice and limiting to three months the validity of any given strike mandate.
There are also motions to defund trade unions who have more political leaning, an attempt many see as a way to defund the Labour Party and keep trade unions from having any political stand. There’s also a limit to the amount these trade unions can give to political organizations, reducing their political power to almost nothing.
There’s also a problem with the amount of power given to outside parties who now have the ability to control and manipulate these unions and their workers.
Certification Officers now have the power to start an investigation into a trade union without any real cause, seize any and all information they can, and essentially snoop to their hearts’ content. And then after the investigation concludes, these unions will be made to pay for it, literally.
The government says it’s to make sure these trade unions aren’t using their money and resources for sedition, but many see it as a way to cage these workers in and manipulate them into following archaic rules and regulations.
Those who strike will have to wear armbands to let everyone around them know that they are ‘allowed’ to strike.
What this Bill does is take away the voice of union workers, stripping them of their agency and their ability to make their lives in the working world a better place. These restrictions effectively take away any power they may have once had, instead pushing them further and further into a windowless box where they merely say and do what they are told, a modern day 1984.
Does this sound right to you?