Composite Motion: C16 Trade Union Act

Issue date
12 Sep 2016

Motion 20 and amendments

Congress condemns the Trade Union Act which is the biggest attack on trade unions in decades and represents a further transfer of power against workers and in favour of the employer.

In addition to the undemocratic ballot thresholds, new requirements on ballot information and notices and duration of disputes will not only weaken unions but will provide for legal uncertainly with employers challenging unions and seeking to persuade courts to make rulings to ensure the provisions of the Act are even more detrimental.

The requirement that every workplace must have a picket supervisor advised to the police may not only be unworkable and put unions at risk of challenge but will leave activists open to intimidation and victimisation and, as the Blacklist Support Group have warned, could create a “state sponsored blacklist.”

Congress notes the Act has maintained its attack on unions’ political campaigning by requiring new members to opt in to political funds. Turnover in union membership will mean that the requirement to opt in will quickly become the norm rather than the exception.

Congress also notes that the ILO Committee of Experts has asked the government to review key clauses to ensure that the Act meets ILO requirements, including by removing the 40 per cent threshold from education and transport, and that the government was asked to report back to the ILO on developments next year.

Congress believes the General Council needs to convene an urgent practical conference, including workshops, to provide a forum as to how to best coordinate our legal and industrial response to the Act in line with policy already set by Congress. The location and basis of representation to be determined by the General Council.

Congress should discuss all options for challenging the new legislation. This should include stepping up the campaign to scrap the Act and other anti-union legislation as well as the practical steps to be taken to support unions and groups of workers threatened by this anti-worker legislation.

Congress applauds that the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn has committed to repeal the anti-trade union laws.

Beyond repeal, there needs to be a new framework of law including:

i     transferring ‘work’ issues from BEIS to a new specialist Ministry

ii     a right to organise - including union access  to workers

iii    a right to bargain collectively - with statutory support for sectoral collective bargaining

iv    an unequivocal right to strike.

Mover: National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers

Seconder: Unite

Supporters: National Union of Teachers; Fire Brigades Union