Branch Secretary Dan Sartin led the West Sussex Branch lobby of MPs aiming to persuade them to vote against the government’s Trade Union Bill, or at least some of the more destructive clauses within it. Dan met both Worthing area Conservative MPs Sir Peter Bottomley (pictured) and Tim Loughton.
At the rally and lobby of parliament on 2 November, TUC General Secretary Francis O’Grady condemned the “shambles of a Bill.”
The Bill is currently being rushed through parliament. UNISON believes it is unnecessary, unfair and undemocratic. It:
- outlaws the deduction of member subscriptions through payroll – a voluntary arrangement with employers which unions often pay for;
- puts severe restrictions on facility time – the time union reps use to represent their members;
- places significant and costly bureaucratic burdens on unions with regards to their campaigning activities to defend public services from cuts and privatisation;
- attacks the rights of workers to take strike action; and
- allows inexperienced agency workers to be brought in to cover workers on strike.
Thousands of trade union members travelled to London to attend the rally, speak up in favour of their rights at work and to speak to their MPs about the bill.
Dan said: “Hour-long meetings with both local MPs were thorough and constructive. As a result, we agreed to send them further detailed, written information about key aspects of the Bill such as political funding, electronic ballots and the monitoring of social media.”
“Alas, despite a mountain of evidence that the Bill is poorly thought through, unwanted by employers or workers, and will have unanticipated consequences the Government will come to regret, the Government did get a majority and passed the Bill unamended.”
“The delegation which met with the MPs explained that we represent some of the hardest working and lowest paid workers in public services, and our work is essential to defend them and improve their standard of living. It became clear though that both MPs were as concerned about trade unionism on the London Tube which they objected to and wished to curtail. For that preoccupation with industrial relations in one sector, many people could suffer poorer representation and negotiation at work at the hands of this Bill.”
Dan continued, “We need not let this happen however. The Bill goes to the Lords now. Unions will try to get it amended so it comes back to the Commons. If it passes in February, we will have 12 months to convert our payroll members onto direct debit. If we can do this, we will go a long way to preserving our influence and role in the workplace. But there is a long way to go yet and we will continue to talk to our West Sussex MPs if the Bill comes back to the Commons we hope it will.”
To find out more about how you can support further lobbying, contact the Branch office.