We can expect more laughter by the government as the REFORM of the TRADE UNION BILL moves through its Committee stage over the next couple of weeks.
This reform enables employers to dominate and exploit ordinary working people if they wish to do so.
It will create an imbalance in employer-employee relationships – putting power firmly back into the hands of the employer by removing the incentives for employers to address employees’ grievances.
And it comes at a time when workers lives are becoming increasingly more difficult and when opposition is mounting against government policies which consistently ignore fair treatment, justice and peoples’ rights.
Our government says it is fair and reasonable to make these reforms to stop our public services being disrupted by strikes. However, we must bear in mind that NO-ONE EVER WANTS TO STRIKE – this is normally what people do when they have exhausted ALL other options.
Strike action has often been the ONLY way that workers could protect their rights - through peaceful demonstration, by withdrawing their labour, letting their employers fully understand their value and convincing them to listen to their very real grievances and to finally address them.
The new bill will state that employers must be informed of any strike action 14 days before and it enables employers to cover their employees’ duties by using agency staff. Obviously this means that employers can totally ignore their workers issues – pay, working conditions, etc etc - because it renders strike action totally harmless and pointless.
But even so, the bill will make strikes harder to organise, especially for public service employees where 50% of members must vote and 40% must be in favour of strike action. It will limit the time that Trade Union Reps are allowed to spend on their duties which will also affect workers’ rights badly. It also imposes stricter rules on Trade Unions with annual audits about protests and pickets which might lead to fines being imposed.
Worse of all - it attempts to eliminate the opposition by bankrupting the Labour Party. It will cut off their main source of funding from Trade Unions - and in doing so breach the unwritten understanding in Westminster that no party will introduce reforms to party funding without cross-party agreement. (Basically, employers will no longer transfer union membership fees directly from employees’ salaries and it is anticipated that funds will drop dramatically when members have to be pro-active in paying directly).
The Tories will be ok though because they are funded by big businesses and millionaires and we all know who they are - the ones who do not have to pay any taxes.
The Question is – can it be stopped now? I believe that there is still some hope - but not much.
After the Committee stage, it will go to the Report Stage, the third reading, the consideration stage (the Lords will consider amendments, it might `Ping-Pong` between the houses for a while) – but once given Royal Assent it will become an Act of Parliament and will become Law (at least that's my understanding of the process).
Then it really would be game over! And then we can forget any pay rises, better working conditions, fair treatment or justice – those could increasingly become luxuries of the past for ordinary working people.