THREE of the UK’s most powerful trade unions will meet with members and supporters in Bromsgrove to discuss the impact of Sajid Javid’s Trade Union Bill.
The meeting will take place at the Holiday Inn at 7pm on October 29.
Brandished by protest groups as ‘the biggest violation of worker-rights in three decades’, the Trade Union Bill has caused uproar across the UK.
Unite regional secretary for the West Midlands, Gerard Coyne said: “The meeting is being held in Bromsgrove because it is the Business Secretary, Sajid Javid’s constituency.
“He’s been invited to speak to his constituents, members of the GMB, Unison and Unite.”
He said Mr Javid was in charge of the ‘biggest crackdown on trade unions in 30 years’ and should make clear his reasons for ‘anti-trade union legislation’.
The bill states members must confirm intention to strike by a postal ballot system and sought to outlaw union members from striking unless at least 50 per cent of those eligible cast their vote.
In certain industries / professions, strike action would only be legal if 40 per cent of those eligible in public sector industries voted in favour. They include the fire service, education, health, transport and border security.
This means any members not registered to picket, protest or strike could face disciplinary action and/or losing their job as such action will be classified as a civil offence.
Union members and supporters said they were concerned the new bill could spell the end of strike action in the public sector, adding they were convinced it would not be long before the private sector was also affected.
A spokesperson for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said strike action affected everyone yet only eligible members could vote as opposed to elections where everyone could.
Retired union convenor Graham Fletcher, 67, from Rubery, said he was concerned the reform would lead to a reduction in union members and lapsed memberships.
“If your membership’s lapsed and you’ve been unfairly dismissed, the union can’t pay for your tribunal and you would have to find £1,200 to pay for it yourself.”
And Labour MP for Northfield, Richard Burden labelled the bill ‘vindictive, unnecessary and disruptive’ and said, while it did have a detrimental effect on the funding of the Labour Party, its main problem lay with the difficulty of subscribing to trade unions where they could discuss democratic decisions on industrial action.
But a spokesperson from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said the system was introduced to the civil service ‘with no devastating effects’ and would ensure unions were ‘best placed to manage their own membership.’
Union leaders said new methods of renewing union membership would affect the ‘political fund’ through which union members could opt to make a financial contribution to the Labour Party.
Figures from the Electoral Commission confirmed the Labour Party received 57 per cent of its funding from trade unions in the first two quarters of this year.
A spokesperson for the department said the Government was not trying to abolish or reduce union political funds.
“The intention of this measure is to ensure transparency about political funds to union members.”
The spokesperson added the proposals aimed to protect ‘ordinary people’ who depended everyday on industries such as transport, health, education and emergency services from strike action.
Conservative MP for Mid Worcestershire, Nigel Huddleston, said: “I believe it’s wrong that politicised union leaders can hold the country to ransom with demands that only a small percentage of their members voted for.”
Mr Javid said: “Trade unions play an important role in our community and deserve our respect.
“When working people’s lives are being disrupted by strikes, when local schools are closed or buses are cancelled, it’s only fair that this happens as a result of a contemporary mandate that is supported by a majority of those being asked to take part in industrial action.”
Among the speakers will be Gerard Coyne – Regional Secretary Unite the Union West Midlands, Franco Buonaguro – Unison Regional Head of Health, Joe Morgan – Regional Secretary GMB Union Birmingham and West Midlands, Whyeda Gill-Mclure – Senior Lecturer Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations and Robert Smith – Employment Lawyer Thompsons Solicitors.
To book places at the free event in Bromsgrove, visit: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-trade-union-reform-bill-and-the-attack-on-civil-liberties-free-public-meeting-tickets-18536639588