Trade Union Bill: Commons to debate government plans

The government’s Trade Union Bill proposes curbs on picketing and higher voting thresholds for ballots, reports The BBC.

Unions say the bill is a threat to workers’ right to strike, with leaders vowing to fight it “tooth and nail”.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said it will stop “endless” threats of action.

The bill will receive its second reading in the Commons later, giving MPs – including new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – their first chance to debate the proposals.

Mr Corbyn accused the government of “attacking working people”.

The government wants to impose a minimum 50 per cent turnout in strike ballots – with public sector strikes also requiring the backing of at least 40 per cent of those eligible to vote.

Under current rules, strikes can be called if the majority of those taking part in a ballot vote in favour.

The bill will also:

  • Double the amount of notice unions have to give before a strike can be held – from seven to 14 days
  • Allow employers to use agency workers to replace striking staff
  • Introduce fines of up to £20,000 on unions if pickets do not wear an official armband
  • End the so-called check-off system for collecting union subs direct from a salary

The proposals would apply to unions in England, Wales and Scotland.