Trade Union Bill

Written evidence submitted by Dave Godson & Alan Duffell,

Joint Chairs of East Midlands Social Partnership Forum (TUB 44)


As a group of HR d irectors and regional trade union reps we are responsible for a public sector workforce of over 131 ,000 NHS staff across the East Midlands .

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.

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.

Although the government will want to explore all elements of cost avoidance (as we do), we want to highlight the cost savings we achieve through effective consultation and communication between NHS employers and trade unions

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.

October 2015

Prepared 28th October 2015