STUC calls on Councils and other Public Authorities to Resist the Trade Union Bill

September 14th 2015

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has today written to public authorities across Scotland to highlight the effect of the Trade Union Bill on their own working practices. The Trade Union Bill, which receives its second reading in Parliament today, contains a variety of negative impacts for trade unions and workers across Scotland but there are two specific issues that impact on public sector employers. These changes will negatively affect industrial relations and the running of public services in Scotland.

The Bill will place an additional burden on public sector employers by requiring them to report on how much facility time they have agreed with unions. The Bill also contains a reserve power that will allow a Minister at Westminster to cap arbitrarily the level of facility that the employer and the union are permitted to agree. This can be done at any time and without reference to the employer’s views or local circumstances.

Similarly, the UK Government is proposing to outlaw the use of Check-off or Deduction of Contributions at Source systems for trade union subscriptions. Payroll deductions are used in a variety of ways by employers, with the consent of their employees, and can include deductions for charitable giving, pension contributions and bike loans. At present the UK Government is proposing only to prevent union subscriptions being paid through the payroll. Again this will be done without reference to employer views or local circumstances.

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, said:

“It is an absolute scandal that the UK Government is seeking to intervene in the running of Scotland’s public services in this way. In Scotland we are working hard with the Scottish Government to create a new approach to industrial relations through the Fair Work agenda and partnership working – that relies on facility time and good will between employers and unions – is a key part of the good quality public services that we have here in Scotland.

“These changes do not simply affect the trade union as an institution, but change the way our public services will be run and how responsive they will be to their local communities. The UK Government will make these changes from London, without reference to the views of employers here or local circumstances.

“This is fundamentally an anti-democratic move that threatens Scotland’s ability to run its own affairs. These clauses have been included in the Bill as cost cutting measures but far from being savings these changes are likely to incur costs for the public sector. Ultimately it is the right of the Scottish Government, Scottish Local Authorities and other public bodies in Scotland to decide how their money is spent; the UK Government should not be intervening in this way.

“For this reason we are calling on all public sector employers in Scotland to stand with their trade unions and their workers and to agree not to comply with the legislation if it is introduced.”

Ends

Notes to Editors

The STUC has sent a letter to all Council leaders containing a sample motion for councils to pass on this issue, pledging non compliance with the legislation. A copy of this letter and the proposed motion is attached . A similar letter was also sent to all Scottish Public Authorities asking them to take a position of non-compliance.

For more information: Dave Moxham- 07891 026870

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