Stopping the Trade Union Bill

Wednesday 21 October / 7 p.m. / Keynes Hall, King's College, King's Parade, Cambridge CB2 1ST

Organizing in trade unions gives us our best everyday chance of a fair deal at work and outside, but unions have faced repeated attacks by employers and the state for their challenge to unrestrained profit. The latest is the Conservative government's repressive Trade Union Bill, which for example would require up to 80 per cent majorities in ballots for industrial action.

Cambridge and District Trades Council and Cambridge Labour Party have organized a meeting to discuss how we can stop the bill becoming law, with guest speakers Keith Ewing (President, Institute of Employment Rights), Lewis Herbert (Leader, Cambridge City Council), and Dave Smith (Secretary, Blacklist Support Group).

We won't examine the rambling bill in much more detail here but among other things, it would

  • require 50 per cent participation and (in 'important public services') up to 80 per cent majorities in ballots for industrial action;
  • force repeated ballots for long-running industrial action, even when nothing has changed;
  • impose a doubled period of notice to employers for industrial action of 14 days;
  • allow employers to break strikes with agency workers; and
  • introduce bizarre restrictions on picketing, including the appointment of a 'picket supervisor' who must at all times wear an armband and carry a letter, and the need to give 14 days' notice to the police for the use of Twitter and other social media.

Trade union freedoms are already tightly restricted in Britain after the determined campaign by the Conservative governments of the 1980s.

For full information on the Trade Union Bill we recommend two articles in the Morning Star by Keith Ewing and the barrister John Hendy, 'Kill the Bill: Unions' Remaining Powers Under Threat' (15 September) and 'Picketing and the Trade Union Bill' (3 October), supplementing the regular work of the newspaper's industrial reporter Conrad Landin.

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