Government admits proposed social media laws for trade unions were too harsh

A small victory for campaigners against the Trade Union Bill


Yesterday the Department for Business,  Innovation and Skills published the government’s response to its consultation on ‘tackling intimidation of non-striking workers’. The government received a total 177 responses to the consultation, which was designed to review certain clauses of the controversial Trade Union Bill.

In September the government proposed new measures that would require unions to publish picket and protest plans 14 days prior to any action, including details of how and when unions planned to use social media during the time of action.

The government’s response yesterday shows them climbing down from the plans, which had been deemed excessively harsh and discriminatory against unions. In addition, the response retracted proposals to make every individual on the front line submit their name to authorities.

Skills minister Nick Boles wrote:

“It is clear that there is a need to update the Code of Practice on Picketing in order to set out clear advice on the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved in industrial dispute, particularly the use of social media. So that is what we will do.”

He went on:

“The government has no intention of making every individual on the picket line give their names to authorities. Nor do we want to stop strikers using social media or require them to seek police approval for Tweets before they are posted. There is also nothing in the Bill that facilitates the illegal practice of blacklisting.”

This is a small victory for campaigners against the Trade Union Bill. But the Bill still contains rules on balloting which are utterly disproportionate and unlike measures applied to any other type of organisation.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward

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