Hartlepool council’s plea over Trade Union Bill

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Hartlepool Borough Council is calling on the Government to have a re-think on a proposed parliamentary Trade Union Bill which it feels will impact adversely on employees.

It follows a motion put to a recent meeting of the full council, which was unanimously supported by Hartlepool councillors.

The town’s Mayor, Councillor Mary Fleet has now written to Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, requesting that the Government re-considers.

The letter states: “We oppose the Trade Union Bill which will give Central Government wide-ranging powers to impose changes on how public authorities choose to work with unions to manage relations in the workplace.

“We oppose the key elements of the Bill, which include:

l Preventing public sector employers from running “check off” systems to deduct union subscriptions from the payroll;

l Requiring all public sector employers to publish detailed annual reports recording how many union officials are employed by the authority, what proportion of the pay bill is allocated in total to union facilities and how much the public authority spends on specific union activities;

l Controlling the amount of money each or any public authority can invest in collective bargaining and social partnership forums, on union health and safety reps and even union learning reps, who work with employers to raise skills and training opportunities;

l Revising contracts of employment and collective agreements which have been agreed by the public authority with their staff and unions;

l Intervening to cap the amount of money each authority can spend on facility time;

l Use of agency workers where a strike is in place;

l The proposed picketing reforms.”

The letter goes on: “We are surprised and disappointed that as a local authority we are to lose the autonomy to take our own decisions around these important areas for employee engagement, particularly given the Government’s commitment to the so-called localism agenda.

“We call on the government to think again on these plans and for this council to signify its opposition to these changes.

“There is no evidence that the proposals within the Bill will modernise the relationship between employers and their employees, and it is our belief that they will fundamentally damage the many effective and jointly beneficial relationships that exist in a modern workplace.

“Hartlepool Council agrees that the proposed Bill is unfair, unnecessary and an undemocratic attack, which will undermine constructive employment relations and the civil liberties of trade union members.

“We call on the Government to reconsider the proposals contained in the draft Trade Union Bill.”

The Mayor concludes by saying that she is looking forward to a response from Mr Javid.