The Trade Union Bill is a new set of laws that will severely restrict working peoples’ ability to organise for their own rights and campaign for a more progressive society. It will go through Parliament this Autumn and could be law by February 2016 and will apply in England,Scotland and Wales.
UNISON is campaigning against the Trade Union Bill because we believe MPs should be focusing on the real problems our country faces and working with everyone, including trade unions, to solve them, rather than taking away people’s right to be supported at work.
The government’s Trade Union Bill has finished its parliamentary journey and is now an Act.
A Parliamentary Briefing Paper on Second Reading (08/09/2015) summarises the bill clause by clause.
UNISON has a long and proud track record of successful political campaigning in support of our members and the services they provide. This work is made possible by our political fund, which has two distinct sections – the Labour Link and the General Political Fund (GPF). The current attack by the Conservatives on trade union political funds is proof not only of the highly ideological nature of the current government, but also of the effectiveness of our political campaigns.
This consultation is about listening to the views of UNISON members on how we respond to the political fund changes demanded of us in the Trade Union Act 2016 in a way that enables our political campaigning to continue despite the challenges posed.
The Trade Union Act 2016 will require all unions in Great Britain with political funds to switch from an ‘opt-out’ to an ‘opt-in’ system for all new members, and to remind all new members of their right to opt out annually. As a consequence of effective lobbying by UNISON and other unions, the political fund provisions of the act do not affect existing members, who will continue to pay into the Labour Link or GPF funds as previously, unless they exercise their existing right to opt out from paying into the political fund. The implementation date for these measures is 28 February 2018.
To meet this timetable, rule changes will need to be agreed by the political fund committees; approved by the Certification Officer; and submitted by the NEC in February 2017 for debate at UNISON national delegate conference in June 2017. The working group is consulting branches, regions and self-organised groups (SOGs) across the union, to ensure that all members get to have their say about the future of the fund. This process needs to be completed in time for responses to be incorporated into proposed rule changes taken to the February 2017 NEC meeting. Responses to the consultation should be sent by return email by 20th January 2017. More details can be found at https://www.unison.org.uk/news/article/2016/12/pol-fund-review/
Question 1 - Do you agree with the working group recommendation that we should look at ways of altering subs rates to try and maintain a degree of simplicity for new members?
Question 2 - What are your views on the idea of a system whereby new members (from February 2018) pay the same sub as existing members and then pay the political fund contribution on top?
Question 3 - What are your views on the benefits and difficulties of political fund contributions being paid through direct debit? (note: because the sums would be small, such payments might be annual.)
Question 4 - What are your views of the principle of harmonising the amount members pay into Labour Link and GPF?
Question 5 - What are your views about the contribution for new members becoming a single flat rate, as opposed to the current arrangement where they pay a percentage of their contribution?
Question 6 - What are your views about giving new members a choice of how much they contribute to the political fund? (e.g. 50p a month, £1 a month, £3 a month)?
Question 7 - What do you see as the main challenges and barriers to signing up prospective members to the political fund?
Question 8 - What ideas do you have for maximising the number of new members opting in to the political fund?
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 key changes we won:
These added to concessions already made to:
Though this bill is still a damaging and undemocratic piece of legislation, we should be proud of the campaign we have run.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Of course we’d rather the bill had never existed, and there is much that is still wrong with it. Even with today’s amendments it still places unnecessary burdens on working people and their unions.”
The government has withdrawn plans to ban public service workers from having their union subs deducted from their wages.
As the House of Lords started its report stage debate on the Trade Union Bill, Cabinet Office minister Lord Bridges confirmed that the government was withdrawing the plans to end check-off in the public sector and civil service.
The Regulatory Policy Committee – an independent body appointed by the government which verifies the costs and savings of proposed changes to businesses and civil society – has today (Friday) slammed the government’s trade union proposals impact assessments as “red – not fit for purpose”.
The RPC found that the government had not made the case for any changes in the law on trade union picketing and protest – including proposals to make unions give 14 days’ advance notice of whether their members will use Twitter or Facebook during protests. They said that ‘there is little evidence presented that there will be any significant benefits arising from this proposal’ and 'the definition of the problem currently appears weak and must be substantiated'.
On agency workers being allowed to replace striking workers, the RPC found that the government's impact assessment undermines its own central assumption, as 'it provides reasons why it might be more beneficial to the employer to take the short-term costs associated with a strike instead of seeking temporary workers'.
And the RPC suggested that the government had been too hasty in pushing through their proposals, and called on the government to consult further – including specifically with those unions and employers affected by the additional 40 per cent threshold requirement for industrial action.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said “The government’s trade union bill threatens the basic right to strike – and it’s being rammed through with unseemly haste, without a proper case being made.
“We’re pleased that the Regulatory Policy Committee has exposed the lack of consultation and the unfair imposition of excessive red tape on unions and employers. This is an opportunity for the government to take a step back, recognise that they were wrong, and drop these proposals which threaten the democratic right to strike.”
The RPC’s full judgements are available here
UNISON believes that the right to strike is a fundamental one, which should be respected in a free and democratic society. The UK already has one of the most regulated systems of industrial action in the world, with unions having to comply with highly complex legal requirements. Just the imposition of a 50% participation threshold in strike ballots will have a chilling effect on the ability of employees to take legitimate strike action.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Freedom of Association Committee:
‘The requirement of a decision by over half of all the workers involved in order to declare a strike is excessive and could excessively hinder the possibility of carrying out a strike, particularly in large enterprises.’
The ILO has called on governments to amend their national laws where they included such provisions. Together with additional restrictions of a 40% ‘yes vote’ in important public services, an obligation on unions to give 14 days’ notice for industrial action and the removal of the ban on the supply of agency staff to cover strikes this is a serious erosion of the right to strike which goes against the government’s international and human rights obligations.
The government has refused to consider measures such as electronic balloting or workplace balloting supervised by independent scrutineers. This runs counter to the pursuit of electronic participation in every other area of its work. The government’s claim to be ensuring democratic mandates for action by introducing ballot thresholds is undercut by their refusal to make it easier for members to vote.
Allowing union members to use secure electronic voting for industrial action ballots would increase participation in union democracy, particularly among younger members. Instead, the Trade Union Bill will restrict the democratic rights of working people and the ability of trade unions to represent their members in the workplace. It will ultimately lead to a diminishment of your voice at work.
Employers will be allowed to bring in agency workers when their employees are on strike.
The use of agency workers during strikes undermines the right to strike and could impact on the safety and quality of the services normally provided by trained and qualified staff.
Not only will it put those agency workers in a difficult and stressful position as they are asked to cover a service in a workplace they are not familiar with, it may also compromise the safety of the services that are provided.
The Trade Union Bill represents a pernicious attack on UNISON members’ contractual right to pay union subscriptions by deduction from payroll. Removing DOCAS (Deduction of Contribution At Source) will deny UNISON members the most convenient method of maintaining their protection at work. Branches potentially face a loss of members, a drop in income and a fall in workplace density.
UNISON will hold a one day workshop on 8 February which will help activists to:
New courses for members and stewards.
Inflation leaps to 3.2%
More regulation of gig economy needed
Appalling risk of suicides in construction
Fat cats — the great pay divide
Racist abuse after Brexit vote
Lack of diversity at top in Wales
Papers for the meeting on Monday 3 April.
Meeting on Tuesday 28 March 2017 at 4.30pm.
Nottinghamshire Police have taken the bold step to identify misogyny as a hate crime and Northern UNSION are keen for this to be replicated in our region. The aim of the event is to identify how we can move the issue forward across the region with all three Police and Crime Commissioners.
Swings and scooters of inflation basket
No real improvement in weekly earnings
Cosmetic improvement with Living Wage
Zero-hours contracts at record high
Unemployment falls below 1.6 million
Agenda and annual report.
Economic forecasts in Hammond's Budget
Mixed fortunes in ethnic women's pay gap data
Company merger and acquisitions in 2016
Numbers on zero-hours contracts at a high
GMB take on DX delivery firm
Former chancellor's nice big earner
Charter to stop violence at work
Saturday 25 March. Hear grassroots, union and guest speakers and watch the Reel News film showing the Durham Teaching Assistants’ story.
Saturday 25 March, to plan UNISON LGBT activities for the year ahead.
A joint training session for trade union and community activists on how to organise to defeat the politics of division. 18 March 2017.
March calendar of events and activities.
Trade Union Act regs come into force
Gender pension gap leaves women short
Violence at work — the nasty truth
Bookseller's £7m salary
Money purchase pension are norm
British Gas denied appeal in Lock case
Government fails in ethnicity review
Papers for the meeting on Monday 6 March.
Papers for the retired members' meeting on 17 March.
Winners in February.
Morning seminar and afternoon remembrance service in Hartlepool on Friday 28 April 2017. There is also an Eve of WMD ‘Gig’ on Thursday 27 April.
Government green paper on pensions
A 'Stern diet' for fat cat directors' pay
Employers — don't miss out on talent
Argos repays £2.4 million to 37,000 staff
Economic growth revised upwards
Work fears of disabled people revealed
Migrants have helped make Britain. It’s time to celebrate us
NHS at breaking point, according to British Medical Association
Councils prepare to cut essential services to fund adult social care
London transport spending equivalent to £1,500 more per head than North East
Minimum wage cheats named and shamed
Inflation hits three-year high
Unemployment at 11-year low
Inflation erodes growth in weekly earnings
Migrants are always the scapegoats. But now they’re taking on Ukip’s lies
I, Daniel Blake is a realistic depiction of life on benefits. Isn’t it?
English social care system for elderly facing 'complete collapse'
North East peers want law to make Government investigate impact of Brexit on region
North East recruitment drive revealed as jobless total in region rises
UK employment growth driven by foreign nationals, figures show
The NHS needs a rethink. Its priorities no longer make sense
Top Labour politicians come to 'UKIP area' Sunderland for Brexit debates and festival
Rothbury Community Hospital inpatient ward closure public meeting this week
Shopping will cost you more as prices rise, but is Brexit to blame?
Campaigners calling for u-turn over Post Office move
UK labour shortages reported as EU worker numbers fall
Britons living in the EU face Brexit backlash, leaked paper warns
Then the Daily Mail came for Gary Lineker, and we said: ‘Enough!’
Brexit survey revealed: What you would do if given second shot at EU referendum
Booming gig economy costs £4bn in lost tax and benefit payouts, says TUC
There will be a shameful betrayal of the Brexit low-paid
Welcome to the new dark ages, where only the wealthy can retire
NHS 'pays £7.5m a year for 20 most expensive agency doctors'
Drive to bring health and social care together is a well-intentioned mess
Sunderland, 19/20 May 2017.
Sign Language (BSL) Introduction, 2 March 2017
Dementia Workshop, 30 March 2017
Regional Education Calendar 2017
A&E in England had worst delays ever in January, leak suggests
Why was Newcastle Council leader Nick Forbes the star of Prime Minister's questions?
Number of patients stuck in hospital 'far higher than NHS data shows'
It's time corporate tax dodgers started losing lucrative council contracts
More council housing needed in the North East - government report reveals
Council tax, youth funding and bins: 6 things to look out for from Sunderland budget meeting
TyneMet and South Tyneside colleges merger: What it means for jobs, campuses and its new name?
Review of tribunal fees finally published
Plan to tackle abusive hiring practices
Insecure work on rise
Twenty eight directors share £68.37 million
A list of affiliations and donations that the branch committee has approved since January 2015.
UK faces return to inequality of Thatcher years, says report
NHS ID scheme could deter eligible patients, say MPs
Councils may cut social care provision due to underfunding, LGA says
Nursery schools: ‘What society gives children less chance than their parents?’
Council tax rise planned for Northumberland residents as authority faces £36m cuts
'Trump can't hack Trebs' - the best signs from Newcastle anti-Trump demonstration
Racism at work
Economy grows but there's a shortfall
Advice on gender pay gap from Acas
Tories offer no solution on discrimination
Eight assaults a day in Welsh schools
A quarterly periodical updating branch reps on employment law.
Winners in January.
Northern Region Young Members AGM
UNISON Northern Region Black Members Forum AGM 2017.
Discounted car insurance for UNISON members.
In Newcastle on Saturday 4 February.
Papers for the meeting on 6 February.
Death by a thousand fire service cuts
Guidance on stress
Modern-day slave traders jailed
Fees let bad bosses get off scot free
Top-ranked inclusive employers 2017
Get tough on pay, says pension funds
Agenda and nomination form for the mmeting on 4 February.
Annual Meeting of the Regional Disabled Members Self Organised Group on Tuesday 31 January 2017.
Mental Health Awareness Workshop on Thursday 16 February.
Wales to ditch parts of 2016 Trade Union Act
Inflation rates at highest since 2014
Retail inflation eating into earnings growth
UK unemployment at nine-year low
Public sector pay poised to fall by thousands in real terms, TUC says
May’s promise on workers’ rights is hollow if she doesn’t get a deal
NHS crisis: the one act of self-sacrifice that could rescue our health service
Politicians have ignored the working class for too long
World's eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%
Crisis, what NHS crisis? Theresa May must stop this denial
Welsh government tables bill to overturn Trade Union Act
UNISON have now been allocated two spots on the 16 January to have guided tours around the Anne Frank exhibition.
Courier's tribunal win against CitySprint
TUC warns over Brexit threat to workers' rights
Lame excuses for not paying minimum wage
High street store fined over safety
Manufacturing output edges higher
Child poverty briefing
Winners in December.
Consultation on political fund review: December-January
We are having our first Reading Ahead launch at Welford Learning Zone on 11 January between 10am and 11am.
Book now to secure your place on one of the courses for Reps at Newcastle College starting in January 2017.
UNISON courses in 2017. These courses are free and open to all members unless otherwise stated.
'Precarious pay penalty' of zero-hours staff
Plans for a Universal Basic Income
2017 — economic forecasts for year
'Fat Cat Wednesday' has been and gone
Northern Ireland to reveal political gifts
UK's deficit in trade in goods gets ever worse
UK economic growth revised upwards