Scottish Government requests Scotland opt-out on controversial Tory Trade Union Bill


Employment Minister Roseanna Cunningham has “significant concerns” about new trade union legislation

THE Scottish Government has made an official request for Scotland to be excluded from the trade union legislation currently going through Westminster.

In a letter to UK Skills Minister Nick Boles, Employment Minister Roseanna Cunningham wrote: “It is our view that all the measures within the Bill in combination will affect the employees’ right to strike, change the relationship between unions and organisations negatively, and lead to greater confusion amongst employees.

“This directly impacts across Scottish business and especially our devolved public services in Scotland. I believe this is not a constructive platform upon which we can pursue our ambitions for Scottish workers.

“I have significant concerns the Bill as currently drafted leaves far too much scope for abuse in the future. The detail of much of the Bill is to be set out in regulations, and there would be no formal opportunity for the Scottish Government to influence such regulations. Therefore, the approach we are trying to develop could be seriously undermined.

“I have considered the Bill very carefully and, given the extent of the risk to us around the future use of this legislation, the only solution I see is to ask that Scotland is excluded from the entire Bill.”

The UK Government wants to impose a minimum 50 per cent turnout in strike ballots, while a minimum 40 per cent of workers in public sector jobs such as health and education must back strike action before it can be taken.

“This legislation has to be resisted. It is the biggest attack on civil liberties we have seen in decades in this country.” Kirsteen Fraser, SNP Trade Union Group

The Trade Union will apply across the UK will also include:

– Double the notice period that unions can give to go out on strike from seven days to 14 days.

– To allow agency staff to replace staff who are on strike.

– Fines will be introduced of up to PS20,000 on unions for repeatedly failing to ensure that supervisors wear an official armband.

– Call to end the so-called check-off system for collecting union subs.

While speaking during a motion on the Trade Union Bill, at the SNP conference this morning, Grahame Smith, the general secretary of the Scottish TUC, condemned the bill by saying: “This bill is an attack on unions. It is an attack on our right to strike and to represent our members.

“But more than that, it is attacked on democracy, on fundamental human rights and civil liberties, on the right to peaceful protest.

“I know that the SNP values these rights and that we will stand together as we have on other issues where we share a common cause.”

A motion at the conference in opposition to the Trade Union Bill was overwhelmingly passed.

Kirsteen Fraser, secretary of the SNP Trade Union Group, told CommonSpace: “I think it is very fundamentally important that the motion was passed during conference this morning.

“It shows that there is a clear voice against the Trade Union Bill. This legislation has to be resisted. It is the biggest attack on civil liberties we have seen in decades in this country.

“Liberty and Amnesty International have both come out and said that is an attack on civil liberties. It is a breach of human rights and trade union rights.”

Fraser went on to say that she hopes the SNP will get support from “left-leaning parties in the UK” which will “join in solidarity to defend the rights of workers”.

Picture courtesy of DncnH