The Lords have inflicted a triple blow to the government’s controversial and damaging Trade Union Bill. They overwhelmingly voted for three amendments, on:
- electronic balloting;
- facility time; and
- union funds for political campaigning.
The government will now have to rethink plans before the Bill returns to the Commons. This April the Lords will vote on the government’s attack on ‘check off’. This is the automatic deduction of union subs from salaries. Its removal will force unions into contacting their members asking them to change to a direct debit system, which will be costly and time-consuming. No employer has ever said they were not happy with current arrangements.
We hope peers will challenge the government on this crucial issue too.
They voted by 320-181 to commission an independent review of electronic ballots for strike action, which ministers have rejected, despite calling for changes requiring a minimum turnout of 50% and backing of at least 40% of eligible voters.
They also voted 248-160 against a cap on facility time for trade union reps.
And where the Bill requires Labour-affiliated union members to ‘opt in’ to paying a political levy, peers voted 320-172 to apply those changes to new members only, with a 12-month transition period.
Branch Secretary Dan Sartin said: “The government has tried to force this Bill through parliament. As with tax credits, peers have rightly held them back. The Bill is a dogs breakfast of measures all aimed to cripple both trade unions and the Labour Party. It is a uniquely partisan piece of legislation thinking only of the Tory party’s political interests. It has nothing to offer working people or the country, and we hope these amendments will make the Government think again.”