21 August 2015
The Regulatory Policy Committee – an independent body appointed by the government which verifies the costs and savings of proposed changes to businesses and civil society – has today (Friday) slammed the government’s trade union proposals impact assessments as “red – not fit for purpose”.
The RPC found that the government had not made the case for any changes in the law on trade union picketing and protest – including proposals to make unions give 14 days’ advance notice of whether their members will use Twitter or Facebook during protests. They said that ‘there is little evidence presented that there will be any significant benefits arising from this proposal’ and 'the definition of the problem currently appears weak and must be substantiated'.
On agency workers being allowed to replace striking workers, the RPC found that the government's impact assessment undermines its own central assumption, as 'it provides reasons why it might be more beneficial to the employer to take the short-term costs associated with a strike instead of seeking temporary workers'.
And the RPC suggested that the government had been too hasty in pushing through their proposals, and called on the government to consult further – including specifically with those unions and employers affected by the additional 40 per cent threshold requirement for industrial action.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said “The government’s trade union bill threatens the basic right to strike – and it’s being rammed through with unseemly haste, without a proper case being made.
“We’re pleased that the Regulatory Policy Committee has exposed the lack of consultation and the unfair imposition of excessive red tape on unions and employers. This is an opportunity for the government to take a step back, recognise that they were wrong, and drop these proposals which threaten the democratic right to strike.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- The RPC’s full judgements are available here
- The RPC is chaired by a business representative who used to work in the energy sector, and it includes members who work for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Tata, as well as two economists and a City lawyer. In addition, two members of the RPC are members of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties respectively. There is one trade union representative who was not included in discussions around these assessments so as to avoid a conflict of interest. The membership and register of interest for the RPC is available here:
- The RPC enjoys support from government and business. The Small Business, Industry and Enterprise Minister Anna Soubry recently said of the RPC:“...[the] Regulatory Policy Committee has an important part to play. They are a strong independent body and their scrutiny of our work should give businesses confidence.”
- Sajid Javid has also endorsed its work. Many employers’ organisations have also endorsed the important role of the RPC – see for example https://www.gov.uk/government/news/regulatory-policy-committee-appointed-as-the-independent-body-verifying-the-costs-and-savings-of-changes-in-law
- The government’s trade union proposals threaten the right to strike.
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