Oppose the TU Bill

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Conference
2016 Energy Service Group Conference
Date
1 March 2016
Decision
Carried

This Energy conference believes that the Trade Union Bill represents the biggest assault on working people’s rights in living memory and represents an unashamed and deliberate attack on public sector trade unions in particular. The Bill affects almost every aspect of trade unionism in England, Wales and Scotland. It shifts the balance of power in workplaces further towards the advantage of employers and away from workers, whether they are in a union or not. It is fundamentally an attack on core trade union activity: facility time, check-off of subscriptions, and the ability of unions to underpin collective bargaining with a credible right to strike as a weapon of last resort.

It also subjects unions to unprecedented levels of civil and criminal penalties, red tape, and monitoring by the Certification Officer, paid for by a levy on trade unions. It curtails unions’ abilities to fund political activities and campaigns, within the Labour Party and wider civil alliances and groups. Conference notes that significant aspects of the Trade Union Bill’s reach remain yet to come, with government reserving large areas for secondary legislation.

This conference is aware that many of the well publicised restrictions in the Bill suggest an attack on workers in the public sector only. This is very misleading and many of the restrictions impact directly on energy workers, including the proposed restrictions on industrial action. It is also the case that, while energy is not referred to in the Bill as an essential public service, we must ask how long it would take for it to become listed as one, if we ended up with a period of industrial action in the energy sector.

Fundamentally, an attack on trade unionists anywhere is an attack on trade unionism everywhere and we must fully support the campaign to seek to abolish this damaging and vindictive legislation.

Conference therefore calls on the Energy SGE to

1)Fully support all efforts by UNISON to oppose the Trade Union Bill and any provisions that make it on the statute books;

2)Engage with Energy employers to strengthen workplace level bargaining and ensure that any DOCAS arrangements are kept fully intact.

3)Ensure that Energy members are fully aware of the damaging implications of the TU Bill and can respond appropriately and participate in any campaigns against the Trade Union Bill.

4)Support the development of joint work with the Institute of Employment Rights to develop a positive charter of trade union and workers’ rights for the next government at Westminster.