Trade Union Bill opposed inside and outside Fife Council HQ

Restrictions of the right to strike and tougher laws on picketing are among the measures in the Trade Union Bill which will be opposed by Fife Council this week.

Restrictions of the right to strike and tougher laws on picketing are among the measures in the Trade Union Bill which will be opposed by Fife Council this week.

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Opposition to the UK Government’s plans to introduce its Trade Union Bill will be voiced both inside and outside Fife House in Glenrothes this Thursday.

Fife Trades Council, Fife People’s Assembly and a number of trade unions will stage a demonstration against the Bill outside Fife Council’s headquarters from around 8.30am.

Then inside the council chamber, during a meeting of the full council due to begin at 10am, Ian Waddell, on behalf of the joint trade unions, will have the opportunity to address members.

Councillors will also be involved in debating two motions – one from Councillor David Ross, Labour administration leader, and one from Councillor Brian Goodall, SNP group leader – both opposing the introduction of the Trade Union Bill.

Measure in the Bill include introducing thresholds for industrial action, limiting the right to strike; introducing a 14-day notice period to taking industrial action; bringing in limits on ‘facility time’ (paid time off to carry out trade union duties) for public sector workers; restricting trade unions’ use of social media during industrial disputes; making unlawful picketing a criminal offence; and ending the process of ‘check-offs’, whereby subscriptions are deducted from the salaries of workers who are members of a trade union.

The motion by Cllr Ross states that the Trade Union Bill would “restrict the ability of this council to engage in good industrial relations practices with our workforce and their representatives”.

He adds: “The council believes the collection of union dues through the check-off arrangement, from which the council receives income, is part of our collective and contractual arrangements with the trades unions and one which we will defend and support.”

Cllr Ross is also calling on the council to commit not to use agency staff to break or weaken industrial action and to continue to support arrangements that afford trade union representatives sufficient resources to enable them to carry out their duties.

Cllr Goodall’s motion says the measures in the Bill are “an ideological attack on organised workers, that they are unnecessary and are in contravention of workers’ human rights”.

He is calling on the council to note both the different approach to industrial relations advocated by the Scottish Government and the recent memorandum of understanding signed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Trades Union Congress, which states that the UK Government should agree to the full devolution of a number powers over matters including the minimum wage, and trade union and employment laws.

Both motions call on councillors to agree to the leader of the council writing to the UK Government to express Fife Council’s opposition to the Bill.