The Trade Union Bill urges more police involvement in pickets
Yesterday Dave Prentis, the general secretary of UNISON, wrote on these pages about government plans to further clamp down on workers’ rights when they introduce the Trade Union Bill. The latest proposals include requiring all striking picket workers to identify themselves to police and give 14-days’ notice of all picket and protest plans.
Prentis said these proposals were ‘all about making life tough for unions and the working people they represent just for the hell of it’. Today a YouGov poll shows that more than three-quarters of the public agree that these new measures are a waste of police time.
The survey, carried out for the TUC, shows that 77 per cent of people -including 69 per cent of Conservative voters – think making it compulsory for unions to give 14-days’ notice if they are planning to use a loudspeaker or carry a banner is ‘a bad use of police time’.
A similar number (72 per cent) think the same of forcing unions to submit what they are planning to post on social media and blogs during a strike two weeks ahead of time.
This specific proposal seems like a gross infringement on media freedom; if unions breach this rule or others they could be hit with financial penalties of up to £20,000.
The poll also showed public concern about the victimisation of union members. 60 per cent) of the public think making the lead person on a peaceful picket line give their name to their employer will have a negative effect on that person’s career.
The findings come as the government prepares to bring its Trade Union Bill before parliament for its second reading, which could take place as early as next week.
The Trade Union Bill was described this week as ‘a major attack on civil liberties in the UK’ by human rights groups including Amnesty International, Liberty and the British Institute of Human Rights:
“It is hard to see the aim of this bill as anything but seeking to undermine the rights of all working people.”
Ministers have also been criticised by the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) – the government’s red tape watchdog – for trying to rush through the Bill without proper consultation.
The RPC described the government’s three impact assessments on its proposals as ‘red – not fit for purpose’ and said the government had not made the case for the changes.
The government has said it felt forced to make the changes after a number of strikes based on small turnouts.
Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward
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