B1490 – Trade Union (Public Responsibility) Bill 2019 Watch

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What is this thread about?
This is a bill in the Model House of Commons (MHoC). It's a piece of proposed legislation that is currently being debated, and there's a good chance that the House will later vote on whether to pass it into TSR law. All are welcome and encouraged to ask questions about the bill's content and join in the debate – you don't have to be in a party or be an MP to do so.

What is the MHoC?
It's a political role-playing game where we pretend to be the House of Commons, and it's been going since 2005. We have formed parties, we have elections twice a year, and we debate bills and motions just like the real-life parliament. If you want to know more about how the MHoC works, your first port of call is the user manual. If you'd like to get involved and possibly join a party, you want the welcome thread.


B1490 – Trade Union (Public Responsibility) Bill 2019, TSR Government
A
BILL
TO

further increase the public responsibility aspects of any industrial action; bring in absolute majority voting in the balloting of any industrial action, and to define a reasonable timescale for the notification of the result of any ballot to the employer.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, in accordance with the provisions of the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1(X)Definitions
For the purposes of this Bill,
(1) All definitions are to be defined as in the relevant existing acts.

2(X)Ballots: public statement
(1) In section 226 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (herein, referred to as the “1992 Act”) (requirement of ballot before action by trade union), in subsection (1), after sub-paragraph (b) insert the following:-
(X) (X) (X) (c) is not protected unless the backing organisation of the ballot, or a designated representative as determined by the internal regulations of the backing organisation, has issued a public statement to all members and the media for immediate release in the form as in sub-paragraph (i) prior to any further internal notice as required by section 226A of this Act.
(X) (X) (X) (X) (i) A public statement to be valid must take the following minimum form: “That this organisation noting its responsibilities and duties under contractual obligations is hereby terminating discussions indefinitely with [...] and shall proceed to a ballot of all members to take place on [...]. If an absolute majority of members vote for industrial action, we shall proceed to start industrial action on [...] lasting for [...] hours.”
(X) (X) (X) (X) (ii) The relevant details are, in place of the brackets, to be substituted into a statement made in accordance with the form in sub-paragraph (i), notably:-
(X) (X) (X) (X) (X) (a) the employer’s legal and public facing name;
(X) (X) (X) (X) (X) (b) the expected date of ballot;
(X) (X) (X) (X) (X) (c) the expected date of industrial action; and
(X) (X) (X) (X) (X) (d) the expected duration of any industrial action.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to any ballot proceedings commenced prior to the day on which this section comes into force.
(3) Ballot proceedings are said to have commenced under subsection (2) if the process of informing employees under section 226A of the 1992 Act has begun.

3(X)Ballots: absolute majority voting
(1) In section 226 of the 1992 Act (requirement of ballot before action by trade union), in subsection (2)(a), substitute for sub-paragraph (iii), the following:-
(X) (X) (X) (iii) in which an absolute majority, defined as 51% of all members eligible to vote, answered “Yes” to the question applicable in accordance with section 229(2) to industrial action of the kind to which the act of inducement relates
(2) In section 226 of the 1992 Act (requirement of ballot before action by trade union), subsections (2A) through to (2F) are repealed.
(3) Subsection (1) and (2) does not apply to any ballot proceedings commenced prior to the day on which this section comes into force.

4(X)Ballots: notification of employers
(1) In section 231A of the 1992 Act (employers to be informed of ballot result), substitute for subsection (1), the following:-
(X) (X) (X) (1) The trade union shall take such steps as are reasonably necessary to ensure that every relevant employer is informed of the matter mentioned in section 231, within twenty-four hours (herein, the “allocated time”) of the ballot being closed.
(2) In section 231A of the 1992 Act (employers to be informed of ballot result), after subsection (1), insert the following:-
(X) (X) (X) (1A) Failure to inform the employer within the allocated time shall invalidate any ballot.

5(X)Citation and Commencement:
(1) This act extends to the whole of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
(2) This act will come into force upon Royal Assent.
(3) This act may be cited as the Trade Union (Public Responsibility) Bill 2019

Notes
We continue to believe that trade unions, whilst beneficial in some regards, continue to hold far too great a level of leverage over employers and over society, as a whole. Industrial action must remain a measure of last resort, and not something employed on a whim. Hence, this Bill proposes changes to the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 to modernise and further legitimise any action.

Section 2 requires any trade union proposing a ballot for industrial action to give out a public statement, above and beyond its current obligations to simply inform current members. This statement must take a standard form and give information surrounding the proposed industrial action to ensure that the public is made aware, at the earliest possible convenience.

Section 3 brings in absolute majority voting for any action: 51% of all eligible members must vote in favour of any action. This is a significant improvement over the status quo, in which only 40% of members must support action.

Section 4 establishes a defined time scale of 24 hours to inform employers of any ballot result, over the current ‘reasonable’ time frame.
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JMR2019.
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No
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ns_2
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(Original post by JMR2019.)
No
Any expansion over just 'no'?
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Mr T 999
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Aye! I hate strikes and view them as disruptive to society so any action to limit them has my support.
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JMR2019.
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(Original post by ns_2)
Any expansion over just 'no'?
I do not vote against worker rights
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Saunders16
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51% of all members is a ridiculous threshold that would essentially stop strikes from being possible. I am also concerned the notes are an attempt to mislead the house, as 40% of all members is a requirement that I believe only exists in health, education, fire services and transport.

More than 50% of voting members and 66.6% for important services, and you have a deal. Strikes should be transparent and limited, and I do not support secondary action, but limiting them completely like this makes it much harder to enact change in the workplace.
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ns_2
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(Original post by Saunders16)
51% of all members is a ridiculous threshold that would essentially stop strikes from being possible. I am also concerned the notes are an attempt to mislead the house, as 40% of all members is a requirement that I believe only exists in health, education, fire services and transport.

More than 50% of voting members and 66.6% for important services, and you have a deal. Strikes should be transparent and limited, and I do not support secondary action, but limiting them completely like this makes it much harder to enact change in the workplace.
This creates a uniform playing field, in which it must be clear that the unionised workforce as a whole is backing action, and not simply a smaller subset. If action is truly based on institutional failings or issues, then there would be no issue in getting 51% of eligible members to vote in favour.

If we wished to limit strikes, I would have pushed forward with a view to making the 'reasoning' behind any action subject to an independent arbitration body to prevent the entire union striking on behalf of one guy, preventing those who didn't vote or voted against action from participating or requiring 95% turnout. This is a compromise.

It is nice to see that we agree that strikes should be transparent, and thus both support sections 2 and 4.
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(Original post by ns_2)
This creates a uniform playing field, in which it must be clear that the unionised workforce as a whole is backing action, and not simply a smaller subset. If action is truly based on institutional failings or issues, then there would be no issue in getting 51% of eligible members to vote in favour.

If we wished to limit strikes, I would have pushed forward with a view to making the 'reasoning' behind any action subject to an independent arbitration body to prevent the entire union striking on behalf of one guy, preventing those who didn't vote or voted against action from participating or requiring 95% turnout. This is a compromise.

It is nice to see that we agree that strikes should be transparent, and thus both support sections 2 and 4.
You do not need 50% of the electorate to lead a government. You do not even need 50% of the electorate to win an MP seat.

To expect 50% of those simply able to vote, IN ALL CASES, when it is currently only 40% of those able to vote for certain services, is absolutely a restrictive measure that is undemocratic without fair reason.
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Aye - trade unions limit freedom and greatly damage the employment prospects of non-unionised individuals; I would support any and all reasonable restrictions on the power of such organisations.
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Jammy Duel
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(Original post by Saunders16)
51% of all members is a ridiculous threshold that would essentially stop strikes from being possible. I am also concerned the notes are an attempt to mislead the house, as 40% of all members is a requirement that I believe only exists in health, education, fire services and transport.

More than 50% of voting members and 66.6% for important services, and you have a deal. Strikes should be transparent and limited, and I do not support secondary action, but limiting them completely like this makes it much harder to enact change in the workplace.
The 50% only makes a difference because so many votes on strike action have such low turnout
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Saunders16
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(Original post by Jammy Duel)
The 50% only makes a difference because so many votes on strike action have such low turnout
Even on general election turnout, it would require a supermajority of voters. It's not just about low turnout.
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Rakas21
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Aye.

A fantastic bill and one which has my full support.
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(Original post by Saunders16)
Even on general election turnout, it would require a supermajority of voters. It's not just about low turnout.
There is a fundamental difference between elections and ballot action: one is a democratic exercise, another is wilfully withdrawing one's labour despite being contractually obligated.
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barnetlad
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I suggest this Bill is added to with a provision that the mandate of a ballot lasts longer than the 28 days at present in law. This leads I think to some strikes to maintain the mandate when discussions/talks could be continuing. I suggest 180 days.

The Bill should specify where the public statement is placed and for how long- it could be sneaked in at 5pm on a Friday and removed on the Monday for example.
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(Original post by barnetlad)
I suggest this Bill is added to with a provision that the mandate of a ballot lasts longer than the 28 days at present in law. This leads I think to some strikes to maintain the mandate when discussions/talks could be continuing. I suggest 180 days.

The Bill should specify where the public statement is placed and for how long- it could be sneaked in at 5pm on a Friday and removed on the Monday for example.
More than happy to take the second point on board.

I believe the first point is already in place, in section 234 of the 1992 Act:

"(1) Industrial action that is regarded as having the support of a ballot shall cease to be so regarded at the end of the period, beginning with the date of the ballot—

(a) of six months, or
(b) of such longer duration not exceeding nine months as is agreed between the union and the members' employer."
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barnetlad
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(Original post by ns_2)
More than happy to take the second point on board.

I believe the first point is already in place, in section 234 of the 1992 Act:

"(1) Industrial action that is regarded as having the support of a ballot shall cease to be so regarded at the end of the period, beginning with the date of the ballot—

(a) of six months, or
(b) of such longer duration not exceeding nine months as is agreed between the union and the members' employer."
Section 234 covers how long a mandate is valid, once the first action is taken. So my suggestion would required section 234 to be amended.

Thank you for offering to take my point about announcement of strike action on board
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ns_2
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(Original post by barnetlad)
Section 234 covers how long a mandate is valid, once the first action is taken. So my suggestion would required section 234 to be amended.

Thank you for offering to take my point about announcement of strike action on board
My interpretation of s 234 is that the mandate starts after the ballot and lasts six months - regardless of whether action is taken. I'll look into it further.
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(Original post by ns_2)
My interpretation of s 234 is that the mandate starts after the ballot and lasts six months - regardless of whether action is taken. I'll look into it further.
My next door neighbour works for London Underground and explained it to me as to why sometimes there are one day strikes even though discussions have taken place.
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(Original post by barnetlad)
My next door neighbour works for London Underground and explained it to me as to why sometimes there are one day strikes even though discussions have taken place.
The only thing I can find supporting their narrative is an 'industrial action handbook' (https://www.kent.ac.uk/unison/docume...n_handbook.pdf) which states that "The action must commence within 28 days of the last voting day in the ballot and it may be extended for an extra 28 days with the employer’s agreement. Such an agreement should be confirmed in writing."

However, the handbook is from 2009 and the Trade Union Act 2015 changed this.
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Miss Maddie
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An excellent proposal to stop rogue unions holding everyone to ransom. The proposal isn't perfect, it doesn't go far enough. I want to have opt-ins when funding political parties rather than opt-outs. Nonetheless it's an improvement. Aye!

If people don't like their jobs they can get a new one. Striking should be banned
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