Welsh councils and unions unite to oppose Trade Union Bill

Cymru/Wales local government employers defend facility time, check-off and union rights for council workers

UNISON Cymru/Wales has joined other local government unions and Welsh councils to signal their joint opposition to the UK government’s Trade Union Bill.

UNISON, GMB and UNITE are championing a statement agreed by the Joint Council for Wales employer’s side condemning the bill as a regressive step that will harm good industrial relations.

The statement calls upon the Welsh government to work with public sector employers and unions to persuade the Westminster government to reconsider.

It follows the recent vote by Welsh Assembly Members in the Senedd against the bill and a strong statement of opposition from first minister Carwyn Jones.

UNISON Cymru/Wales head of local government Dominic MacAskill, who is staff side secretary of the Joint Council for Wales, said: “This bill is a blatant attack on trade unions. If passed, it would deny millions of working people a strong voice at work.

“It’s alien to the traditions we have in Wales, and employers from right across the public sector have written to the government to state their opposition to it. It must be withdrawn.”

Joint Council chair and Wales Local Government Association employment spokesman Peter Rees, who is also the deputy leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, said: “These changes in the Trade Union Bill are being imposed without any evidence that they are actually necessary or that they will in any way benefit industrial relations between employers and their trade unions.

“We have a long history of working together constructively in Wales, with major disagreements being a very rare occurrence.

“The fact that the trade unions are able to represent their members, our employees, on relevant workforce matters saves us time and money overall, as the alternative – of trying to involve and consult employees on an individual basis – would be difficult and time consuming.

“Facility time is therefore a positive benefit, not the costly burden it is painted as by the UK government.

“Equally, the current arrangements for check off work well for both parties, with much of the cost often covered by direct contributions from the trade unions themselves.

“Welsh councils are devolved public bodies and individual sovereign employers. We believe we should be able to make our own agreements with the trade unions in these matters, and would wish to honour and protect existing industrial relations arrangements in local government.”