John McDonnell MP is using his first place in the ballot for Private Members' Bills in a skillful and measured way to propose the aptly titled "Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill" (http://l-r-c.org.uk/press/john-mcdonnell-launches-bill-to-restore-the-right-to-strike/).
This isn't the full Trade Union Freedom Bill which our union leaders kept forgetting to bring back from Warwick over thirteen years of Labour Government (http://www.unitedcampaign.org.uk/sitebody/projects/tufb.html) - but to stand a chance of success a Private Member's Bill has to be a lot less ambitious than that.
The Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill is a specific and targeted piece of legislation which aims to restrain employers' ability to use trivial aspects of non-compliance with the draconian restrictions imposed upon the ability of trade unionists to take industrial action in order to derail action which workers want to take (http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-11/lawfulindustrialactionminorerrors.html).
We have seen the use of technical breaches of almost impossibly demanding statutory requirements to avert strike action by the RMT, CWU and - of course UNITE(BASSA) in the recent past. As UNISON members move into action against our employers we can expect more of the same.
This Bill would be a positive development for our movement if passed into law. We have until 22 October to lobby MPs to support the Bill at its second reading.
Anyone can lobby their own MP (it's easy and as you are online now why not take five minutes to go to http://www.writetothem.com/).
Unison branches could consider (and improve upon!) the following model motion;
LAWFUL INDUSTRIAL ACTION BILL
This Branch congratulates John McDonnell, MP for having put the Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill before Parliament.
We note that this Bill would limit the ability of employers to use minor, technical breaches of the anti-union laws to derail industrial action supported in a ballot by trade union members.
We believe that the scale of public spending cuts proposed by the ConDem Coalition Government will force UNISON members to take industrial action and that it will be in our interests if the scope for employers to exploit legal loopholes to prevent us taking such action is restricted.
We therefore resolve;
1. To lobby local MPs to support the Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill at its second reading on 22 October and to write to all members of the branch encouraging them to do likewise;
2. To send appropriate representatives to the lobby of Parliament in support of the Bill on 13 October;
3. To request that the Regional and National Labour Link Committees consider approaching all MPs with whom UNISON is associated to request they support the Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill;
4. To request that the NEC and General Political Fund Committee as appropriate consider funding advertisements encouraging trade unionists - and all working people - to lobby MPs to support the Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill;
5. To submit this motion, appropriately reworded, to the Regional Council.
I would welcome feedback on the wording of the model motion!
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