The Trade Union Bill – which this government are so determined to ram through at the moment – is a piece of legislation with a lot of critics. From Left to Right in both the Commons and the Lords, many have spoken out about this harmful and partisan law – and the number of supporters for the Bill seems to decrease with each passing day.
In the past week, the government have faced criticism from two very different but very influential actors in the field of employment law – Bruce Carr QC and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The ILO – part of the United Nations – called on the government to review parts of the Bill, expressing concerns and seeking clarification over the use of agency workers, “opt in” for political funds and thresholds for strike action.
Yet it is Carr’s scholarly and lengthy critique of the Trade Union Bill which is particularly interesting, given his previous position at the heart of government. Back in 2013 he was commissioned by the then coalition government to review industrial action legislation. Carr later that the review would produce only a scaled-down report, explaining that he was “concerned about the ability of the review to operate in a progressively politicised environment”.
Now Carr has gone one step further and outlined many of the widely accepted flaws in the legislation, including the acknowledgement that there is “nothing at all” in the Bill that trade unions would find positive, and that “industrial strife may not be resolved and may in fact be worsened” by changes proposed by the government.
UNISON has fought this pernicious attack on our right to organise and our members right to be heard every step of the way – and we will continue to do so. As for the government, when even the person they charged with reviewing industrial action has so much criticism for such a Bill, surely they must realise they have gone too far – and withdraw this ridiculous and vicious attack on our movement before it becomes law.