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Trade Union Bill

19 April 2016

The Tory government has rolled over and offered massive concessions on the Trade Union Bill leading to a major victory in the House of Lords for the Labour Party.

The two issues over which the Welsh Labour Government and Welsh trade unions had significant concerns have now been settled in a satisfactory way according to Eluned Morgan Labour’s spokesperson for Wales in the House of Lords who led the battle to defeat the Government.

The Labour Party in its manifesto launched earlier today had promised to “repeal sections of the UK government’s regressive trade union legislation in devolved areas”.

The two governments were on a collision course arguing over who held the powers to introduce this kind of law, a situation which would almost certainly have finished up in the Supreme Court.

Eluned Morgan said:

“This Bill was a massive attack on trade unionists and the trade union movement, and on top of that it challenged the powers of the Assembly. We are delighted that the government has seen sense and has rowed back from some of the worst excesses of the Bill.”

Leighton Andrews the public services minister in the Welsh Assembly said:

“We welcome this last minute retreat by the Tory Government. We would never have allowed the UK government to have imposed these rules on Wales. We have a tradition of working well with trade unions and have ensured as a result of that cooperation that every person working in the health service in Wales receives the living wage.”

The Tory Government gave up on major parts of the pernicious Trade Union Bill under heavy pressure from Labour Members of the House of Lords who have won significant victories in recent weeks.

The Welsh Labour Government had made it clear that the Tory UK Government was going beyond its powers and disrespecting the constitutional settlement and would have challenged any attempt to impose these measures by introducing its own laws in Wales to repeal these measures.

As a result of the climb down trade union members will still be able to have their subs to the union deducted directly from their pay packets, and trade unionists will be able to continue to do trade union work during working hours. (up to a certain limit). This will release trade union officials to get on with the job of representing their workers.

Trade Unions and the Labour Party saw the Bill as a direct attempt to undermine their power. Public sector managers in Wales thought that the introduction of the Bill would lead to a deterioration in industrial relations.

Peter Hain who was involved in the Lords debate said:

“We are pleased that the Government has rolled over on this matter, but it is clear that they haven’t fully understood that they were overstepping the mark in relation to their powers. These were pernicious and unnecessary measures and we are pleased that we have won this great victory on behalf of workers in Wales.”

Mike Payne
GMB Regional Political Officer
Wales & South West Region

Posted: 21st April 2016

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