Trade Union Bill

Written evidence submitted by North Lanarkshire Council (TUB 35)

Trade Union Bill 2015 –Public Bill Committee

1. North Lanarkshire is the fourth largest Scottish local authority, located in west central Scotland, between Edinburgh and Glasgow.  It covers an area of 47,358km² and serves a population of approximately 328,000 people. The Council employs around 16,000 employees.

2. North Lanarkshire Council welcomes the opportunity to make this submission to the Public Bill Committee. The Council believes that the enactment of the Trade Union Bill 2015 will undermine positive industrial relations. In particular, the Council is strongly opposed to the introduction of publication requirements and reserve powers in relation to facility time and the proposal to remove the Deduction of Contributions at Source or ‘check off’ process through which subscriptions are paid by union members.

3. The Council has a long established working relationship with its trade union partners. In addition to promoting positive industrial relations, this partnership is pivotal to the efficient delivery of public services.

4. The publication requirements in respect of facility time will impose an additional administrative burden on local authorities at a time of severe financial constraint. The Council believes the imposition of arbitrary ‘capping’ powers in respect of facility time as proposed by Clause 13 of the Bill to be an unjustified incursion by the UK government on long established and beneficial working practices. The value of facility time is well documented [1] , enabling meaningful consultation to take place between employees and their employers and promoting good workplace relations. This is of particular benefit to the Council in the context of current public sector reforms.

5. The Council is concerned that there has been no consultation with public sector employers regarding the termination of check off. The Council recognises the benefit to employees in having union subscriptions, in addition to other payments, such as childcare vouchers and charitable donations, deducted at source from salary payments. This arrangement is well established and convenient to employees. The Council believes that the removal of check off will undermine positive industrial relations. Furthermore, given that there are no proposals to end other payroll deductions, there is no clear rationale for ending the system of check off.

6. The Council believes that Clauses 12 and 13 of the Bill should be removed and that the proposal to remove check off should be dropped.

October 2015


[1] See, for example, NatCen , The Value of Trade Union Facility Time, Insight, Challenges and Solutions, June 20102 at http://www.natcen.ac.uk/media/28246/value-trade-union-facilitytimefullreport.pdf

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Prepared 20th October 2015