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The bill also proposes huge restrictions on peaceful picketing and protests.

  •  Unions will have to appoint picket supervisors. They will be required to carry a letter of authorisation which must be presented upon request to the police or “to any other person who reasonably asks to see it”. The supervisor’s details must be given to the police and they must be identifiable by an armband or badge.


  • Failure to comply could result in a court injunction to stop the picket, or thousands of pounds of damages for the union. Local authorities could also have the right to issue anti-social behaviour orders to picket line participants or protesters.
    • Existing law already requires union members to comply with tough picketing rules. The new regulations are overly bureaucratic and the penalties are disproportionate. The protest restrictions are unjustified and would divert already scarce police resources away from tackling serious crime.
    • Unions are currently required to give 7 days’ notice before industrial action takes place. Doubling the notice period for strike action to 14 days will undermine negotiations and allow employers to recruit agency workers to cover for strikers. This level of scrutiny and monitoring is excessive, undermining freedom of speech and threatening the civil liberties of working people who should be free to defend their rights.
    • Picket supervisors will have to give their names to the police – raising concerns about blacklisting and will need to carry a letter of approval their union.

What are our concerns?

 These are not the only measures intended. There are lots of other proposals in the bill too –

 Powers to restrict the ability of unions to recruit and represent members in the public sector.

  •  In ‘important public services’ (fire, health, education, transport, border security and nuclear decommissioning), 50% of members must turn out to vote and 40% of the entire membership must vote in favour (that amounts to 80% of those voting, on a 50% turnout). The government argues these thresholds are aimed at boosting democracy in the workplace.
    • Strikes are always a last resort but sometimes they are the only way to resolve disputes at work – including in those industries and occupations included in the government’s definition of ‘important public services’. The government’s definition of ‘important public services’ is wider than the definition of ‘essential services’ in international law.
    • If the government was committed to increasing democracy it would allow secure electronic and workplace strike ballots instead of arbitrary thresholds. Online voting is already used by several national membership organisations including the RNIB, the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales, the National Trust, the Magistrates’ Association, the Countryside Alliance and the Royal College of Surgeons. And it is regularly used by political parties – including by the Conservative party to select their London Mayoral candidate.

What are our concerns?

Restrictions on how unions use their resources.

  •  All public sector employers will have to publish information on the cost of time off for union reps, plus a breakdown of what facility time is used for – collective bargaining, representing members in grievances or disciplinary action, or running training programmes. Public sector employers won’t be able to offer the option of paying for union membership direct through salaries anymore (“check-off”).
  • The government will be able to cap the time public sector employers allow union reps to spend representing members.
    • These changes will restrict public sector employers from investing in good relations with their own employees.
    • Deductions at payroll are a common way that employers help their employees manage their money – often childcare, travel, bike or computer payments are made this way. It’s not clear why union membership fees should be singled out.
    • These moves will reduce unions’ ability to represent their members and resolve disputes before they escalate.
    • Individual public sector employers should have the freedom to decide how they manage employment relations.
    • The changes add more red tape for unions, whose time and money would be best spent serving members.

What are our concerns?

 lots more unnecessary red tape. Such as:

 The increased regulating of unions:

  •  The Certification Officer (who regulates unions) will be given powers to investigate unions and access membership lists even if no-one has complained about a union’s activities.
  • The regulator will also be able to impose fines of up to £20,000 on unions.
  • The government will be able to charge unions to cover the running costs of the Certification Officer.
  • Costs are likely to increase as the regulator has new responsibilities.
    • There is no reason why the trade union regulator needs new powers now.
    • Giving the Certification Officer the power to confiscate copies of membership records and other documents is an intrusion on union members’ privacy and their right to have an independent relationship with their union.
    • Significant new costs will be placed on unions to pay for this red tape – money that could be better spent protecting and promoting the rights of workers.

What are our concerns?

If you add all of that together then it fundamentally undermines the rights for unions to organise, negotiate and strike in defence of their members at work.

 Should this bill be passed then the following will happen:

 Your right to strike will be under threat.

  • The power balance at work and good industrial relations will be undermined.
  • Ordinary workers won’t have any power to stand up to their bosses – even when they’re being unreasonable.
  • Worse pay and conditions for everyone.  
  • Workers unable to raise concerns about service cuts and safety.

 It has to be said that this government is determined to get the Trade Union Bill through Parliament with as litle scrutiny as possible.


We must not let them get away with it. 

 Please go to the following links and sign the petitions: