UNISON has today (Friday) launched #TwoWeekWarning – an online campaign against proposed restrictions that could require unions to report planned social media activity to employers two weeks before any strike.
Under the proposals associated with the Trade Union Bill, unions could also be required to notify the police and the Certification Officer – the body regulating unions – exactly how they intend to use, and what they plan to say, on both Twitter and Facebook, as well as any websites or blogs.
UNISON is concerned that the draconian nature of these proposals would not just deter unions, and the ordinary working people who belong to them, from using social media to promote campaigns and mobilise support for any dispute, but would also stifle democratic debate.
UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Though the Conservatives have made much of the strike thresholds clauses, this is in reality just a small part of the Bill. No other organisation is going to be subject to such vindictive restrictions as those proposed to control union social media activity.
“The beauty of posts and tweets is that they can be spontaneous, unpredictable, and quick to react to events as they happen. The idea that unions would be able to give a definitive list of all the Facebook and Twitter activity planned a fortnight ahead of a strike is frankly ridiculous. It’s nothing more than a partisan attack on the free speech of people at work.
“If the Bill becomes law, these vindictive proposals are likely to lead to increased monitoring of trade union communications – by whom it is not yet clear – a move that would not just be of concern to unions, but to anyone who cares about civil liberties and freedom of expression.”
UNISON, the TUC and other unions are keen to sign up as many Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr users to the campaign as possible. Anyone who visits www.twoweekwarning.net will have a post or a tweet written for them that will tell their friends and followers that they plan to make an important announcement in two weeks time. Then on Sunday 4 October, on the eve of the Conservative Party conference, there will be a second flurry of activity on social media aiming to show the impractical and anti-democratic nature of the proposals.
Notes to editors:
Over 500 people – with a social media reach of over 500,000 – have already signed up to the campaign. Full details and sign-up instructions are available on www.twoweekwarning.net