Wednesday, November 05, 2008

MPs let down trade unionists

While the world was watching the US elections last night, Members of Parliament were debating the Employment Bill.

John McDonnell tried to introduce some additional protections for workers taking industrial action – but had to withdraw in the face of Government opposition and a guillotine motion on the Bill.

He did push to a vote on a reasonable proposal to require employers to assist unions in balloting for action.

I thought yesterday that votes on this Bill would test the support for trade unions in Parliament.

We lost by 53 votes to 408. You can see how MPs voted online.

In further debates, the Government also refused to support the placing of trade union environmental representatives on a statutory footing – meaning that we don’t have legal back up to develop this role in the workplace. More worryingly the Government also refused to change the unworkable provisions of the Bill intended to permit trade unions to expel fascists.

US Unions are busily welcoming the election of a President who makes no pretence to be part of the workers movement. In this country we notionally have a “Labour” Party – but our unions cannot get that Party in Government to take even modest steps to assist us.

This is a serious problem and it is getting worse rather than better.

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