Trade Union Bill

Written evidence submitted by the London HR Directors Network (TUB 24)

As a group of HR Directors we are responsible for a public sector workforce of over 250,000 NHS staff across the capital.

We welcome the opportunity to offer a view on the Bill before its progress through the various stages of Parliamentary readings and hope the following comments provide helpful observation on how the spirit of the Bill's focus may be achieved through refined legislation.

Just as across the civil service, the NHS ha s taken a partnership approach to employee relations, working with trade unions in a manner that has so far minimised the risk of industrial action through strong partnership arrangements. This has paid dividends through improved patient care, a better employee voice and staff engagement, as well as agreements on pay awards that have protected lower paid employees amongst workforces that have little real terms increase in their pay or benefits. Indeed such engagement has been recognised by Health Ministers as fundamental to the delivery of the NHS's Five Year Forward View.

You will know str ikes are not common in the NHS, yet when they happen they have been brief although with the potential to cause significant impact . For the majority of Trusts l ocal partnership agreements have helped us to cover core services with little or no inconvenience for our p atients, although we acknowledge the specific challenge for the London Ambulance Service.

We are concerned that the new voting rules outlined in the draft Bill may make us less able to locally agree solutions to manage any potential impact and to confine the negative implications of any future industrial action for the public or patients. This is because Trade unions that achieved the new voting thresholds may more likely contend that urgent cover is now an employer responsibility.

Additionally, we are not convinced that the benefits of levying a charge on trade unions and employer organisations to cover the cost of certification officers or proposed changes to stop staff paying their Union monies through deductions will be of significant added value. On balance, we are concerned those measures are more likely to be received negatively by staff and Unions and thus unduly effect their motivation and commitment with very limited cost benefit in return.

We understand NHS leaders across England have written to you raising similar points and be would be happy to discuss our assessment with your responsible officials.

Deborah O’Dea
Chair of London HRD network and on behalf of Human Resource Directors - London Trusts

September 2015

Prepared 14th October 2015