Trade Union Bill April 2016

Thank you for contacting me recently about the Government's Trade Union Bill.

As a former full time officer for the GMB at the Woodborough Road office I strongly oppose this Bill because it undermines the basic protections that trade unions provide for people at work.

I believe this Bill is the latest in a long line of attempts by the Government to stifle reasonable democratic scrutiny, protest and challenge. This Bill does nothing to address Britain's productivity gap and skills shortages and, instead, risks driving a false wedge between government, industry, employees and the public by restricting, and at worst criminalising, the rights of ordinary working people to challenge low pay or health and safety concerns.

Trade unions are an important part of an open, democratic society. I am very concerned, therefore, that the Government's Bill seeks simply to weaken trade unions rather than to work with them in order to help boost economic efficiency and tackle Britain's major economic challenges including our worrying productivity gap and skills shortages.

It is my view that the proposals are designed to restrict workers' voices and to prevent unions from effectively representing their members. If the Government was interested in boosting workplace democracy I believe they would allow electronic workplace balloting which would help bring ballots into the twenty-first century.

I also fear this Bill risks driving a false wedge between government, industry, employees and the public by severely restricting the rights of ordinary working people to challenge important workplace issues such as low pay or health and safety concerns. As a result, this Bill could damage industrial relations and make it harder to prevent the strike action and disruption that we all want to avoid. That is why I have voted against this Bill at every opportunity in the House of Commons.

Through cross-party working in the House of Lords, some of the worst elements of the Trade Union Bill have been removed. The Government was defeated in votes on significant issues including electronic balloting, facility time, and trade union political funds. The defeats showed the weight of opposition to the Trade Union Bill and also offered the Government another opportunity to hear some of the genuine and deeply felt concerns about this Bill. Working on a cross-party basis in the Lords, the Opposition has secured important concessions including on check-off and Government plans for the Certification Officer.

Despite this progress I still have significant concerns about the Bill and I believe the Government should accept the Lords' Amendments and listen to the views that have been expressed by the Opposition, trade unions and others throughout the process.

Thank you again for writing to me about this Bill.