Three-quarters of the public think government strike plans will be a waste of police time

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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22 Responses to “Three-quarters of the public think government strike plans will be a waste of police time”

  1. Mick

    Hang on a minute here. This is the TUC, hardly the masters of unbiased surveillance. And contrary to the claims of the doom merchants, workers still have the right to strike. And they STILL don’t need a true majority vote of the workforce to get it. And with the runaway Tube strikes ravaging the lives of other workers, even though Tube drivers get double the pay and perks of other toilers, the Tories can say their plans have a certain merit.

    Indeed, that silly guffer Serwotka, among others, called for a nationwide general strike, of sorts, because the Tories are such fascists. Now that blows a hole in left wing claims that trade union reforms are unnecessary, on the grounds that no union bosses would behave so stereotypically any more.

    Causing trouble to prove that you won’t have to cause trouble any more, unless you say your pushed? Truly, truly loony left. They’ve not left us.


    There could actually be good trade union discussions with the employer that are independently verified on media. No one can then dispute what was said and agreed too. The employer would never agree to this. And the public service agreements are surely open to public scrutiny as we pay them from our tax,

  3. stevep

    Everything you have today was fought for bitterly by your forebears though collectivity and sacrifice. Decent housing, A National Health Service, Free education for your kids, decent local services, paid holidays, sick pay etc.

    I could go on, but suffice to say they weren’t bequeathed to us by beneficent Downton Abbey-style toffs or sympathetic company bosses. They had to be stood up for and fought for by Trades Unions representing us, often not seeing the benefit of it in their lifetime.

    As for wildcat strikers and violet pickets, the company bosses and the establishment used far more violent hired thugs and police to break strikes. Two examples are the 1926 general strike and more recently, the 1984-5 miners strike. The media painted the picture they wanted the masses to see and believe, to cover it up. They did the same with Hillsborough a few years later.

    Take a look back at the Peterloo massacre of 1819 to find out about how the Establishment crushes protest.

    Unions have always been progressive, forward thinking organisations, dedicated to bringing about a fairer, decent, people-oriented society. The landed wealthy, the Corporations etc. want things to go backwards to a time before collectivity where the vast majority of people didn`t have what they enjoy today and prevent them from fighting for it again with restrictive and oppressive legislation.

    So any talk of the left being “loony”, which is extremely insulting to the mentally disadvantaged, is total rubbish.

    If the opposite is true and the far-right current political establishment is sane then greed, dishonesty, selfishness, inhumanity and corruption must therefore be virtues.

  4. Mick

    You actually underline one of my points for me. I’m one of the public who agrees that a moderate trade union presence has a definite place in any modern society valuing its freedom. Such history, where genuine exploitation was fought, is not to be forgotten.

    But the Left still fight yesterday’s battles in a changed world. They literally tell us we still live under Victorian conditions under David Cameron, a man whose party returned to power helped by the votes of common people. Leftists fantasise about a Battle Of Cable Street re-run, quite oblivious that they stand beside Islamics who are just as bigoted as the tiny clique of NF who still exist and pose no danger.

    One of the reasons Labour has such an identity crisis today is because the dinosaur militant socialism which brought down even HAROLD WILSON is no longer relevant or forward thinking. We have survived.

  5. stevep

    There seems to be a skewed form of thinking that if Labour move to the left they will be going backwards. Not true. It is the Tories and their far-right friends who have taken us backwards, to uncertain employment, more work for less pay, housing shortages, a failing health service etc. whilst the wealthy become even wealthier by the minute.
    Is that really the sort of world we wish to live in?
    Cameron considered himself very fortunate to win the recent election, he even rehearsed his leaving speech. It was more to do with Labour unable to present a coherent argument as to what or who they stood for, than massive popularity for the Tories.
    There will no such issues when Jeremy Corbyn is leader, he will put in place a clear, forward-looking, progressive alternative to the current right-wing miasma that passes for political representation today.
    As for “survived”, yes, we have thank goodness. We have survived 36 years of regressive and spiteful politics designed to enrich the wealthy and make the rest of us immeasurably poorer.
    A better future is now a possibility – if we want it.

  6. Dave Stewart

    You do realise that by making legal strike action more and more difficult to the point of it being nearly impossible and turning abstentions into no votes (which is what they plan to do) the likelihood of illegal wildcat strikes that you are so against will go up. As soon as you have criminalised the people standing up for themselves they have nothing more to lose and may as well become violent anyway.

    The reason trade union laws came into existence originally, establishing ballots and the like is to prevent exactly that sort of thing. What they are doing now is purposely dismantling that long standing agreement.

  7. Mike Parker

    If rules similar to those proposed by the Tories for strike ballots were applied to General Elections, the ‘votes of common people’ (ie less than 25% of the total electorate) would not have returned Cameron to power.

  8. Mick

    Ah, then all governments would need to do is be so unpopular that low turnouts deliver long periods of rule!

    Something we were at the risk of under LABOUR!

  9. Mick

    That was a PERFECT setpiece message, regardless how relevant it is to how the election turned out!

  10. blarg1987

    New Labour lost, not because of going left wing, but because they still have the skeletons of conservative light.

    Once they get ride of those skeletons we will have what this country has needed for decades a proper opposition that can hold the government to account.

    New Labour would never be able to do this as all Cameron would have to say is well we are carrying on what you started for 12 years in office.

  11. Mick

    What I started? I couldn’t stand those PC lunatics!

    But oh, the poor Labour Party! You won the election landslide hat trick but you lot still can’t go fast enough to live that down!

    OK, Labour appealed to the public enough but it wasn’t what you wanted, therefore it’s crap. Gotchya. No we have to look at how Old Labour were always drummed out of office in disgrace….. right back to the great Ramsay MacDonald, I believe.

  12. Mick

    Read my point again about a moderate trades union presence being a good part of checks and balances.

    All that’s needed is a simple majority call for a strike – over 50% of a 40% ballot turnout. If the issues are vital enough, they’ll turn up.

    No, what Serwotka and his loonies want are the bad old days of intimidating mass pickets, ‘blitzkreig’ strikes, 3 day weeks, the lights going out and union rage dominating Labour party policy, all from minority block votes and thugs. We can cut that nonsense for a start!

  13. blarg1987

    Well the previous conservative government, would have lost if the opposition had a monkey as its leader.

    We could easily say that the conservatives have always been kicked out of office in disgrace on the same level.

  14. Mick

    Not as much as you think. For some examples, Churchill only lost office to make way for a lovely day tomorrow, supposedly. The Tories just ran out of steam to make way for Harold Wilson, 20 years later. Edward Heath was consumed by the same rabid minority union militancy you think should be restored, while Mrs. Thatcher was also threatened by the same phenomenon. She was ousted by her own mates – not the Left – for John Major, whose restored economy wasn’t enough to save his also tired government because he broke it in the first place.

    Labour, on the other hand, are still acutely embarrassed by 1970 and 1979 – losses so bad as they reflected the catatonic states of the economy, their own union buddies or social system. Unlike the Tories, Labour losses are so bad that the party feels a need to actually radically change ethos.

    Though Labour still does lose office less, paradoxically; though only because the party’s there less often.

  15. stevep

    It`s not everyone else missing the point, it`s YOU missing the point.

    A “Moderate” Trades Union presence is useless up against the powerful interests it seeks to negotiate with, they will just trample all over workers and ignore the Unions, just like they have been doing for the last 30 or so years since the first wave of oppressive legislation to restrict Trades Union activity was introduced by Norman Tebbit.

    Parity in strength and the resolve and commitment to stand up to them is what the wealthy companies fear. The only thing they understand is money and profit. They don`t give a stuff about laying off hundreds or thousands of loyal workers to keep profits up and the shareholders and directors happy. They don`t give a stuff about their future either.

    That`s why companies lobby governments to keep such legislation in place and improve on it.

    You seem completely oblivious to the point I was making in my initial post. That is that you owe virtually everything you have to Trades Union resolve, collectivity, sacrifice and the vision of a better future. You enjoy decent housing, good sanitary conditions, decent public services, free education for children, a decent health service, universal suffrage and proper representation in Parliament. And much, much more.

    Go back in history to a time before The Trades Unions and the Labour Party and you will see the filthy conditions most people lived in, the long, backbreaking hours of work in desperately unsafe and unsanitary conditions to scrape a pittance of a living. Children as young as six working in factories and
    down mines to support their family.
    The poor laws and the horrors of the workhouse for those who went under.
    The split families and the lives of servitude.

    All this at a time when Britain was the richest country on the planet.

    You don`t know you are born.

  16. Mick

    No, I don’t know I’m born. I’ll have to check with that woman I call my mother.

    Again, you do underline what I’ve said – past battles against mill owners who even sent hired thugs themselves, etc., are indeed a stain on our industrial past. Britain was great but nothing was perfect.

    A moderate trades union movement is not the same as a feeble one, which you yourself misunderstand. And in saying that, the kind of heavy, constant wildcat actions which ended up punishing ordinary people more than bosses is the only other order of the day, then. How does that make people appreciate past victories for genuine rights?

    A moderate trades union movement can still argue, protest, strike and negotiate without becoming feral at the whims of a militant leadership. And with feral leaderships able to use block votes, ballotless walkouts, flying pickets and beaten ‘scabs’ to swing their way during the glory years, power does indeed go back to ordinary workers when these communist dictatorships are dismantled.

  17. stevep

    No, I don`t misunderstand at all. I used to be a lay Trades Union official and I can reassure you that what I said was correct. No one wants to take any form of industrial action unless they have to, but if they do they want it to be from a position of strength and solidarity.

    The company I worked for at the time was a progressive one and recognised that proper Trade Union representation in the workplace benefited them as much as the members.

    Sadly, enlightened companies are rare, especially these days.

    You seem to be living in a somewhat imaginary Daily Mail-tinted past and have formed your colourful views as a result.

    Don`t worry, millions share your affliction, but with the advent of better internet access and websites like Left Foot Forward, they are recovering slowly and seeing the light.

    By the way, you do know this site is called LEFT Foot Forward.

    Just asking.

  18. Mick

    Ah, so on the one hand, the caring balm of Leftiness can cure the bigotry of millions like me. But on the other hand, you wonder that I’m even curious about your wonderful church. (Alright, ‘mosque’. Gotta be inclusive.)

    I think the likes of John Lewis is a wonderful thing. Just goes to show that balance on both sides can get a happier deal. But just as a bastard boss could do with a striking against, a loony union leader can do with his wings clipped. The Tories are just tidying things up a bit.

    Nothing’s been ‘banned’, as the left wing scream sheets wail. On the crux issues, workers can still do as they like, so long as the Aye-s have it. Just like in Parliament.

  19. stevep

    No, you poor deluded soul, the Tories are not “tidying things up a bit”, they are descending into fascism.

  20. Mick

    Now I know where Rik from the Young Ones came from.

  21. stevep

    Now I know where Alf Garnett came from!……….Maaaaan!

  22. Dave Stewart

    There is no comparison with what they want to do and the way parliament works. If you don’t show up to vote in parliament that is not automatically counted as a no. Kindly explain how that is the same? If you abstain you are not voting against.

    Also what are you views on the parts of the bill that would require picketers at a perfectly legal picket having to give their details to the police 2 weeks in advance of the picket despite the very real issue of the police handing trade unionists details to black listing organisations? Can you not see how that is a) a breach of peoples right of assembly and b) will have a chilling effect on any picket because people will fear being put on police lists and blacklisted.

    What about your thoughts on requiring unions to tell the police exactly what they plan to publish on social media during a strike 2 weeks in advance of any strike. Does that not strike you as a massive curtailment of peoples right to free speech? Also why precisely is this a requirement? what problem that currently exists does this solve except of course curtailing successful campaigning.

    If these requirements were put on any other section of society people would be up in arms. I am flabbergasted that you attempt to defend such draconian and unnecessary laws. I look forward to your reply.

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