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The government’s new restrictions on trade union protests are a waste of police time, according to a new poll published today (Thursday).

date: 9 September 2015
embargo: 00.01hrs Thursday 10 September 2015

The government’s new restrictions on trade union protests are a waste of police time, according to a new poll published today (Thursday).

The poll, carried out by YouGov for the TUC, shows that more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of the public (and 69 per cent of Conservative voters) think making it compulsory for unions to give two weeks’ notice if they intend to use a loudspeaker or carry a banner during a strike is a “bad use of police time”.

A similar number (72 per cent) think forcing unions to submit what they are planning to post on Facebook, Twitter and on blogs during a strike two weeks in advance to the police would be a “bad use of police time”. If unions breach this rule they could be hit with financial penalties of up to £20,000 (see notes to editors).

The poll also raises concerns over the victimisation of union members. Two-thirds (60 per cent) of the public (and 79 per cent of trade unionists) think making the lead person on a peaceful picket line give their name to their employer will have a negative effect on that person’s career. 

The findings come as the government prepares to bring its Trade Union Bill before parliament for its second reading.

The bill was criticised earlier this week by human rights groups as “a major attack on civil liberties in the UK”.

And Ministers have also been slammed by the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) – the government’s red tape watchdog – for trying to rush through the Trade Union Bill without proper consultation.

The RPC described the government’s three impact assessments on its proposals as “red – not fit for purpose” and said the government had failed to make a case for its changes.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “These findings should be a wake-up call to ministers. The public want the police to be out catching criminals not wasting valuable time and resources supervising peaceful picket lines and social media accounts.

“The government’s Trade Union Bill is an attack on the right to strike and will worsen industrial relations. People are rightly concerned that union members will be victimised for taking action to defend their pay and conditions.

“It is great that the public can see through ministers’ rhetoric and recognise how unfair and unnecessary these proposals are.”

- All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,742 adults (of which 163 were members of a Trade Union). Fieldwork was undertaken between 6 and 7 September 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
- The Trade Union Bill gives the regulator (the Certification Officer) powers to impose fines on unions of up to £20,000 and the government is consulting on imposing fines of this nature on unions where they do not comply with new reporting requirements.
- The government has consulted on three aspects of its proposals – union picketing, the use of agency workers during strikes and which public services should be subject to its new 40 per cent threshold. The deadline for responses was yesterday. A copy of the TUC responses can be found at:…
- A copy of the TUC’s complaint to the International Labour Organisation about the Trade Union Bill can be found at:
- The new chair of the National Police Chiefs Council, Chief Constable Sara Thornton, recently raised concerns about how policing may need to be re-imagined because of the twin challenges of cost pressures and changing policing requirements: (…). She was reported as saying that the police may no longer attend burglaries ( following her speech.
- All TUC press releases can be found at
- Follow the TUC on Twitter: @The_TUC and follow the TUC press team @tucnews
- Congress 2015 will be held in the Brighton Centre from Sunday 13 September to Wednesday 16 September. Media passes can be obtained by visiting and completing an online form. However, as the closing date has passed, an administration fee of £75 must be paid.

Media enquiries:
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Kay Atwal (Thur and Fri)  T: 020 7467 1385  M: 07941 547469  E:

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