Thanks to everyone who has put their time into the campaign against the Trade Union Bill so far. The Bill has now gone through the House of Commons, but the good news is that we won some important concessions and we have the chance to win more in the House of Lords. Proposals on publishing social media and campaign plans two weeks before a strike were withdrawn as were plans to criminalise minor breaches of a picket line code of practice.
Everything we’ve gained so far has been because of UNISON members. Because members wrote to their MPs, visited them or attended the mass lobby, several Conservative MPs spoke out against aspects of the Bill. And all the lobbying made a big difference in one area in particular.
The Bill will force union members in the public sector in England, Scotland and Wales to change how they currently pay their subscriptions. Many UNISON members have their union subscriptions taken straight out of their wages, and this method (knows as ‘check off’ or ‘DOCAS’) is efficient and beneficial for both employers and unions. If all members are required to switch their payment method UNISON reps will have to spend time helping them doing this rather than doing what they should be doing: helping members with problems at work.
UNISON members spoke to their MPs about this and several of them agreed and spoke out on the issue in Parliament. As a result the transition period for implementation was extended from 6 months to 12 months, taking it to the second half of 2017. There is also still a chance that it could be amended or scrapped altogether in the House of Lords.
Public sector employers, like Councils and NHS Trusts, are continuing to speak out against all or parts of the Bill as interfering in their employment relations.
So we’ve already made a big difference, but the campaign is not over. It’s now time to build up to a TUC week of action on 8 to 14 February. Please sign up to the campaign to stay updated.