Burton Area Activists Update
29th September 2015
I am extremely concerned about the attacks upon our democracy and upon union rights in the governments Trade Union Bill.
Firstly, the Bill is introducing tough thresholds on ballots. Modern methods of voting & workplace ballots are specifically not to be allowed – so unions will be forced to use only the postal system. The thresholds required have never previously been reached by unions in many industries, meaning that the government is effectively bringing in a ban on strikes through the back door.
Secondly, the government wishes to leave nothing to chance in the event of an official dispute still managing to take place. They propose a new power for employers to be able to replace striking workers with Agency workers. The Agency firms themselves are are against this proposal, as is just about everyone outside of the CBI and parliament. Some people have likened the proposals to criminalise picketing to something worthy of Franco or Hitler. Pickets will need to wear armbands, and again, Unions will face hefty fines for each breach, eg if a worker forgets or removes their armband. Names of picketers will need to be given to the police, something not seen in any other democracy. The Police are opposed to the proposals as they believe they should be focusing on criminals. Rare though strikes are, I've never known anything other than a good humoured picket-line in Burton. The biggest danger I ever encountered on a picket-line in Burton was a large cream cake!
I’m at a loss to understand why Andrew Griffiths MP and other conservative politicians think we need laws to restrict the use of Facebook and Twitter by workers in an industrial dispute.
The government are saying unions must give two weeks’ notice of anything workers might want to say online, songs workers might want to sing, placards we might want to use etc. For every breach of these rules, they want Unions to pay a large fine to the employer concerned. What is the problem they are trying to solve?
The Bill includes proposals to restrict facility time for workplace reps and is also proposing a total ban on the collection of union subs through member’s wages across the public sector.
Disturbingly, the Bill plans to severely restrict the ability of unions to fund a political party. It appears the government wishes to dismantle democracy by ensuring that only the Conservative Party will continue to have millions of pounds pouring into its coffers.
As local people begin to wise up to the extremist nature of these proposals, I very much hope they will contact Mr Griffiths and ask him to think again. It's not too late - any MP for Burton on the side of ordinary people would vote against this disgraceful Bill. So far, the local MP has voted in favour of this bill.
Together let's urge Mr Griffiths to do the right thing : Come out fighting against the grotesque Trade Union Bill and tell the government they've gone way, way, way too far.
How can you help? Please show your members this newsletter. You might like to raise this serious attack on our organisation at your next branch meeting.
Members can email Mr Griffiths at email@example.com. To ensure a reply, be sure to include your address if you live within the Burton constituency. He can also be contacted on Twitter at @agriffithsmp
Live in Swadlincote? Conservative MP Heather Wheeler has also voted in favour of this grotesque bill. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, please look at http://www.unitetheunion.org/campaigning/no-to-the-trade-union-bill/ and spread the link as widely as you can.
Unfortunately, the Burton Mail has decided not to report the fact that Mr Griffiths has voted in favour of the bill. A press release issued by East Staffs TUC on 21st September has been ignored by the local newspaper. Use Facebook? Take a look at the East Staffs TUC Facebook page.
I will be seeking to persuade the Burton Mail / @BurtonMailNews to report on this vital story using Twitter @rick_coyle. If you or your members use Twitter, please give me a hand!
Unite Regional Officer