Trade Union Bill clears Commons

UNISON wins concessions to the controversial bill – but vows to keep up the fight

The government’s controversial Trade Union Bill passed its final reading in the House of Commons yesterday. It will now move onto the Lords for further scrutiny.

The only parties to support the bill were the Conservatives and Ukip, with a majority of 34 votes.

But some Tories spoke out against aspects of the bill, particularly the proposal to end DOCAS.

Labour’s shadow business secretary Angela Eagle maintained that the bill was “bad for workers and it’s bad for business”, and called it “nasty and vindictive.”

She added: “The bill is a divisive piece of legislation which undermines the basic protections trade unions provide for people at work.”

Ministers did make some concessions, including dropping a requirement for two weeks’ notice of picketing plans on social media.

The government also committed to doubling the time allowed unions to remove the check-off arrangements, to the end of 2017.

UNISON was mentioned numerous times and in a positive light during the debate.

And the union’s general secretary Dave Prentis said that the concessions were “testimony to the hard work of our members in opposing the bill, and conveying the adverse affect it will have on their working lives.

“Their passionate advocacy for trade union rights made an impact on their employers and on their MPs, including Conservative ones.”

But he added: “Make no mistake, despite these concessions UNISON continues to oppose the bill. The union will do everything in its power to have a positive influence on its passage through the House of Lords.”

UNISON understands that several Conservative MPs have privately contacted ministers or whips with questions about the DOCAS elements of the bill, expressing their unease.

And there is room for the Lords to intervene when the matter comes before them.