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2015 National LGBT Conference
5 November 2015

Conference notes that 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the historic first time trade unions led the pride march. Trade unionists were showing solidarity to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people who had campaigned and fund-raised for striking miners in 1984/85.

Conference notes that the 1984/85 miners’ strike was a straight-up fight with a right-wing Tory government bent on demonising and breaking organised labour, using spurious economic arguments to justify their ideological attacks. The Tories then gave the United Kingdom some of the most restrictive anti-trade union laws in the Western world.

Conference is appalled that the current Tory government is bent on making Thatcher’s 1980s Tories look middle of the road. The Trade Union Bill currently before Westminster, which passed its third reading on 10 November, would impact on:

1. Facility time, with plans to impose government caps;

2. Industrial action, increasing ballot thresholds, allowing strike-breaking by agency workers and creating a criminal offence of picket line intimidation;

3. Collection of contributions to both political funds, crucial to our visibility at prides and influencing Labour party LGBT policy.

Conference notes that LGBT workplace equality is won through trade union organisation. Facility time is crucial to this, including non-statutory facility time for trade union activities, the basis for much LGBT self-organisation, which will be disproportionately affected.

Discrimination against LGBT workers remains: there is much still to do. This bill directly threatens our ability as LGBT activists to negotiate, represent, support and organise LGBT members for equality. There can be no doubt – the campaign against the Trade Union Bill is a priority LGBT issue.

Further, the government published a clause on 20 October banning all public sector employers from providing check-off or DOCAS (deduction of contributions at source) – where union subs are taken straight from wages. The resulting loss of income would drastically affect our ability to organise LGBT members.

Conference believes this bill must be dropped.

Conference welcomes the clear evidence during the third reading debate that LGBT members have lobbied effectively, paving the way for possible wins in the Lords.

Conference therefore calls on the national LGBT committee to urge regional and branch LGBT groups and individual LGBT members to step up our vigorous campaign against the Bill, including by:

A Immediately signing up for campaign updates on UNISON’s website;

B Taking urgent actions set out on the online #TUbill campaign page;

C Liaising with Labour Link and LGBT Labour in support of Labour party opposition to the Bill;

D Lobbying MPs, councillors and members of the House of Lords;

E Publicising the importance of keeping individual UNISON membership records up to date in light of the proposed ban on DOCAS;

F Linking with other unions’ LGBT activists, including via regional trade union councils and trades councils;

G Talking to people about our campaign, building public support for the legitimate role of trade unions.