UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Tory guns loaded and targeted on trade unions

#GE2015 David Cameron's cocksure comment in last night's BBC interview that the Tories are 'only 23 seats short of a majority' should make every trade unionist reflect on what's at stake in next month's General Election. A look at the Tory Manifesto confirms an intention to outlaw public sector strikes and introduce a further raft of repressive restrictions on union freedom to organise:

'Strikes should only ever be the result of a clear, positive decision based on a ballot in which at least half the workforce has voted. This turnout threshold will be an important and fair step to rebalance the interests of employers, employees, the public and the rights of trade unions. We will, in addition, tackle the disproportionate impact of strikes in essential public services by introducing a tougher threshold in health, education, fire and transport. Industrial action in these essential services would require the support of at least 40 per cent of all those entitled to take part in strike ballots – as well as a majority of those who actually turn out to vote. We will also repeal nonsensical restrictions banning employers from hiring agency staff to provide essential cover during strikes; and ensure strikes cannot be called on the basis of ballots conducted years before. We will tackle intimidation of non-striking workers; legislate to ensure trade unions use a transparent opt-in process for union subscriptions; tighten the rules around taxpayer-funded paid ‘facility time’ for union representatives; and reform the role of the Certification Officer'

Frances O'Grady TUC General Secretary sums up the extreme nature of these proposals: 'The Conservative plans on industrial action ballots will make it almost impossible for unions to call a legal strike. No other mainstream political party in the democratic world has suggested such a fundamental attack on this basic human right.'

The more strategic thinking amongst the Tory Party are fully aware that 'in marginal seats, where the number of public sector workers is above the national average, union members might actually hold the balance of power.' Hence the importance of all branches backing UNISON's campaign to ensure our members know what's at stake in the election and the importance of casting a vote for a change of Government: