Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hereditary monarch promises "reform" of democratic working class organisations.

An elderly lady in strange headgear has just announced that her Government “will bring forward legislation to reform trade unions and to protect essential public services against strikes.”

It’s ever so kind of a Tory Government to want to “reform” our trade unions – and I’d like to do something to them in return really, as I am sure would millions of others.

Obviously the precise meaning of this single sentence in a brief speech will mean more when we see the forthcoming Trade Union Bill – but there are two points that are worth making now.

First, if the entirety of the proposed legislative “reform” of trade unions were to be the restriction on strike action it would have made no sense to refer to both this “reform” and – separately – to the restriction on strike action in public services.

Secondly, the Queen’s speech is just a list of major legislative proposals (indeed the elderly lady in the funny hat herself said “other measures will be laid before you.”) Measures which a Conservative majority Government can take without the need for new primary legislation don’t need to be listed in the Queen’s speech.

It would be wise therefore for the trade unions to prepare to face all of the challenges set down for us in the Conservative manifesto, including;

  • ·         A 50% turnout threshold in ballots for official strike action;
  • ·         A higher threshold of support from 40% of all those entitled to vote in ballots for official strike action in health, education, fire and transport;
  • ·         Repeal of regulations which prevent the use of agency staff to break strikes;
  • ·         A time limit on the validity of strike ballot results;
  • ·         Legislation to “ensure trade unions use a transparent opt-in process for union subscription;”
  • ·         A commitment to “tighten the rules around taxpayer-funded paid ‘facility time’ for union representatives.”

I hope that those in the Great White Elephant of the Euston Road who have been counselling caution and “wait and see what is in the Queen’s speech”, having waited will now see what needs to be done. We also have a lot of thinking to do.

Update at 1.13pm

There are some details of the proposed Trade Union Bill available online (see pp38-39). This does suggest that the primary legislative focus will be on restricting strike action, with a side order of interfering with our political funds. We would, however, be unwise to ignore the fact that attacks on the deduction of trade union subscriptions from salary and upon trade union facility time have not required (and do not require) legislation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sickening. Off with her head