Trade Union Bill

Written evidence submitted by Councillor Anthony Hunt, Deputy Leader at Torfaen County Borough Council (TUB 54)

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are a unitary Council in South Wales, and therefore have an interest in this Bill as a major employer. We have grave misgivings about this Bill, namely:

· We do not see the necessity of the Bill at a time when strike action is relatively uncommon and when council staff are already coping with increasing workloads and repeated real-terms pay cuts.

· We fear that the needlessly aggressive and confrontational tone of the Bill will undermine the constructive relationships which many employers have built with Trade Unions. This would be to the detriment of both our staff and the people they work to serve.

· We fear that many of the Bill’s requirements will be impractical. For example, the practice of auto deduction of union subs is one which works efficiently for both employer and employee.

· We believe that the main measure which would help increase ballot turnouts, online balloting, should be considered if thresholds are to be introduced. We note that all the major political parties have used these facilities for internal elections.

· We do not believe that the Bill should apply to the public sector in Wales, as this area is devolved to the Welsh Government who are pursuing a more constructive partnership approach.

At our council meeting on 20th October 2015, we therefore passed the following motion:

Trade Union Bill (Proposed by Cllr Anthony Hunt)

This Council notes the debate surrounding the introduction of the UK Government’s Trade Union Bill. As a Council, we believe that Trade Unions have an important and positive part to play in our society and our economy, both in fostering productive industrial relations and building a fairer and more equal country. We believe that this is an important issue for the Council as we strive to retain a productive council-trade union relationship, in the interests of both service users and our workforce, something which this Bill risk undermining.

Union members working for this Council pay a vital role in the education of our children, caring for older and vulnerable people, keeping our Borough tidy and providing many of the other services that are vital to our communities. Most of them are paid very modestly for the work they do, and they deserve our respect, especially after years of real-terms pay cuts and ever-increasing workloads.

Yet instead of seeking to build a fairer deal for these hard-working public servants, this Bill attacks their rights and the rights of those who represent them. We believe the proposals in the bill are counterproductive, vindictive and socially divisive and constitute an illiberal attack on democracy and fundamental freedoms, as noted by MPs of several parties in the recent House of Commons debate on the Bill.

This Council therefore resolves to oppose the introduction of the Trade Union Bill 2015, urges the Government to abandon the bill and instead make a commitment to work in partnership with the trade union movement to achieve a fairer society. This Council also resolves to write to the Welsh Government requesting them to demand that the British Government exempts Trade Unions in Wales from the proposed Trade Union Bill.

We would be happy to expand on our views at your convenience.

October 2015

Prepared 28th October 2015