The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has called on Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn to make the repeal of the Trade Union Act and improvements in workers’ rights a priority in the Labour Party’s Alternative Queen’s Speech.
Grahame Smith STUC General Secretary said:
“Given the current hung Parliament, there is potential to make progress in improving trade union and workers’ rights, including the repeal of the Trade Union Act.
“It would appear that there is now a majority in the Westminster Parliament in favour of a more progressive approach to trade union and workers’ rights since the DUP, by convention, do not vote on these matters as they are devolved to Northern Ireland.
“Labour and the SNP are committed to repealing the Trade Union Act, something which should also gain support from the other opposition parties. As a matter of priority, the opposition must work together to get this draconian piece of legislation removed from the statute book – but also to revisit the legislation on union recognition to make it easier for unions to organise.
“Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats have all committed to end the use of zero hour contracts and to scrap tribunal fees and there is a strong possibility of making progress in increasing the minimum wage to the real living wage, of action on the gender pay gap and of improving the employment rights for workers in the gig economy.
“I have written today to Jeremy Corbyn to urge him make the repeal of the Trade Union Act and improvements in workers’ rights a priority in the Labour Party’s Alternative Queen’s Speech. It is essential that unions are given the opportunity to organise in many more workplaces. Too many employers exploit the absence of a union to apply appalling work practices that degrade workers, undermine the quality of work, and create poverty for many across the country.
“I have also called on the SNP and other opposition parties in Westminster to work together to achieve advances in union and workers’ rights and to support the vital work that unions do.”
Notes to Editors
The Trade Union Act became law on 4 May 2016. The Act represents the most serious attack on the rights of trade unions and their members in a generation. It includes a number of restrictions on unions and their members, including:
· Arbitrary thresholds in industrial action ballots.
· Complicated new balloting and notice rules designed to make industrial action more difficult for unions to organise.
· New restrictions on pickets.
· New restrictions on union campaigning, with extra duties to report on campaigns and wider causes supported from unions’ political funds.
· Wide-ranging powers for the Certification Officer, who regulates unions.
· An expensive levy paid by unions for the costs of being regulated.
The government is also still considering ending the ban on agency workers replacing strikers.
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