Trade Union Freedom Bill

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Conference
2006 National Delegate Conference
Date
28 February 2006
Decision

Conferences recognises and welcomes the many individual rights introduced since 1997. However, Conference believes that the time is now right to progress from an individual rights agenda to one based on collective rights. With that in mind, Conference welcomes and supports the call for a Trade Union Freedom Bill.

Conference recalls that 103 years ago, under powers derived from the Taff Vale judgement, railway employers sued a rail union for £23,000 for taking industrial action. Following a mass campaign of trade union members and a lobby of parliament, the 1906 Trade Disputes Act was introduced which removed trade union liability for damages caused by strike action.

Conference notes that trade union rights have deteriorated since 1906 and unions are again liable for damage caused by strike action. This is despite having ratified many international standards, which protect the right to strike and solidarity action. Conference notes that the Trade Union Freedom Bill focuses on the need to allow trade unions to respond to aggressive employer tactics by:

1)modernising the definition of a trade dispute to include associated companies and companies doing the work of those on strike;

2)allowing workers to support other workers in dispute where there is a close connection between the companies involved;

3)simplifying industrial action ballots and notice requirements;

4)making it more difficult for employers to prevent action by use of Interim Injunctions;

5)protecting strikers from dismissal and detrimental treatment;

6)preventing the use of replacement labour during disputes.

As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Trade Disputes Act 1906, Conference agrees to commit UNISON to support the campaign for such a Bill in any way it can. This should include:

a)encouraging UNISON MPs to sign Early Day Motion 1170 in support of the Bill;

b)promote the Bill and its contents throughout UNISON;

c)call for UNISON members to support the proposed lobby of parliament later in the year;

d)offer any financial resources we can to ensure a successful, joint union campaign around the Bill and its contents.