Trade Union Bill – September 2015

The Trade Union Bill is the most significant, sustained and partisan attack on the trade union members in a generation.

It the latest in a long line of attempts by the government to stifle reasonable democratic scrutiny, protest and challenge. The Bill does nothing to tackle the pressing national challenge our public services, businesses and industries are facing. Instead it tries to drive a false wedge between government, industry, employees and the public by restricting rights – and at worst criminalising – ordinary working people, from midwives to factory workers who challenge low-pay or health and safety concerns

The government says that it wants to increase transparency and legitimacy, yet every measure in the Bill is designed to frustrate democratic decision making by trade union members, at the same time as providing for a wide expansion of powers of Ministers and government. The Trade Union Bill is potentially legally unsound, open to challenge and may be unenforceable in parts. Some of these may be in contravention of European and international standards; and in conflict with the devolution settlements in Scotland, Wales, and even in local government in England.

When considered alongside the government’s wider agenda – this Bill amounts to a curbing of democratic rights, a suppression of civil liberties, and an attempt to silence the voice of ordinary working people. Put simply, this is another Gagging Bill.

I fully oppose the Trade Unions Bill. It is deeply regrettable that the government scheduled the debate for the second reading of the Bill to take place on a day when it knew that many Labour MPs would struggle to attend because of the TUC conference on the same day. I was deeply disappointed that the debate also coincided with the Jewish High Holy Day, Rosh Hashanah, which meant that I was not be able to attend. I will continue to make my total opposition to the Bill known through all other channels available to me and I will be attending all future debates and votes on it to make my views clear.