THE TRADE Union Bill, which passed its final Parliamentary reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday (November 10), was the subject of a meeting at Bromsgrove’s Holiday Inn.
That saw UNITE, GMB and Unison join forces with union members to discuss generating more public support to fight the new legislation.
There were talks by UNITE regional secretary, Gerard Coyne, Unison regional organiser, Mark New, GMB’s Amanda Gearing, employment rights manager, Robert Smith and senior human resources lecturer, Whyeda Gill-Mclure.
The meeting concluded the importance of reaching out to both private sector workers and members of the public.
Tuesday’s result has led unions – and groups like the Bromsgrove arm of grassroots Labour movement, ‘Momentum’ – to discuss a solution-based response.
Yesterday, Bromsgrove residents also attended an ‘employment law and update meeting’ at Birmingham City Football Club where MP Jeremy Corbyn made a brief appearance.
The meeting was led by MP and former president of the National Union of Miners, Ian Lavery.
Unison representative Liz Thacker who was there said although it looked like it would go through, much would depend on how it looked at the end as there were still members of the Lords and police who were ‘not happy with aspects of it.’
Following last month’s meeting, Mr Coyne told the Standard, issues unions fought for impacted on both workers and members of the public affected by austerity measures and cuts to services.
Mr Coyne said strike action was a ‘last resort’ and the focus on it deflected from the positive role unions played as employer-worker mediators.
He said unions worked with committees to provide essential services such as ‘meals on wheels’ during industrial action.
Mr Coyne cited the role unions played during the closure of the Longbridge Rover Plant in 2005.
He said union negotiations with civil servants led to 6,500 workers getting paid a week’s wage by the Government in an attempt ‘to get the Chinese deal on the table.’
He added prior to this in 2000, unions negotiated with the company to encourage diversification of its supply chain, which allowed it to continue until 2005, leading to fewer job losses had the plant closed five years earlier.
The legislation, which passed its final reading by 34 votes, went before the Lords for its first reading on Wednesday and a second reading there, where it will be debated, is yet to be scheduled.
Unions fear the bill will provide less clout for negotiating with employers.
In response to the bill passing its third reading, Giovanni Esposito, who stood as the Green Party candidate in the general election, said he feared reforms would make it difficult to repair the damage to British society.
He added: “Let’s hope the House of Lords intervene. This is one of many sad days for Britain. I fear there will be more to come with this Government in charge.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “People have the right to know that the services on which they and their families rely will not be disrupted at short notice by strikes supported by a small proportion of union members.
“The ability to strike is important but it is only fair that there should be a balance between the interests of union members and the needs of people who depend on their services.”