Unions21 unions and the Lobbying Bill

Unions21 is a trade union network that shares best practice and new ideas between its members.  For the first time, its steering committee have decided that Unions21 should put forward a position on a government bill.


The legislation in question is the ‘Transparency of lobbying, non party campaigning and trade union administration’ – aka the Lobbying Bill.  The Bill has been has been highly controversial and drawn criticism from voluntary groups and charities as well as trade unions.


The case against the bill centres around it’s restriction on campaigning in the run up to an election and a new administrative burden on trade unions which over-rides the right to privacy of their members.
It is perhaps a mark of how far the government has deviated from moderation in its approach to legislation in this case that professional unions, not affiliated to the Labour Party, have put their case to the Government individually, through the TUC and for the first time via Unions21.


Views on the “chilling” effect of the bill are covered below  in the submission from the Royal College of Midwives. Issues around the requirement for unions to hand-over membership records and private correspondence  are set out below in a submission from the FDA.


Dan Whittle, Director, Unions21

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Seeking Power in a Community

Unions need to be on a mission to re-establish their historic mission, and there is no better time than now. 

After the declines in union membership since the mid 1980’s there is nothing new with this need. Unions need to recruit hundreds of thousands every year into the ranks from organised and non-organised workplaces just to stand still. But this is also the time to consider the broader communities in which trade unionists live and work, and the level of social activity and political engagement that does exist.
We are living in very interesting times. There is an increasing recognition that the balance of power between the interest of business and the interest of working people is now too far skewed in favour of business. Real wages are falling. There is a level of mass unemployment and under employment we’ve not experienced since the 1980’s. The austerity agenda is a programme of public expenditure reduction whose impacts are already being felt in every community. Sadly, I could go on…. Read More…

My speech to the Prospect Big Pay Debate

I took part in a debate on pay at a Prospect union learning at work day in Harwell.


Here’s the transcript of my speech:


Thanks for having me here.


For a quick intro to Unions21: Frances O’Grady talking about us at our conference earlier this year said: “I always like to think of Unions21 as the trade union movement’s answer to the TaxPayers’ Alliance – but with less money and more brains.” – so you get the idea.
We’re concerned with everything to do with unions. Pay is a key aspect. The ‘trade union premium’ – the fact trade union members receive higher wages – remains central to the union offer.
But there’s wider issues in the current economic circumstances than that ever present ‘premium’.


So I want to ask today – Can we dare to dream of Fair Pay?

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Obama vs Romney: The union choice is clear

Love letter to RomneyIN America unions back Barack, and he delivers for unions, period.


Today the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, is publicising a “love letter” for Romney. Alongside the picture of a breaking heart a speech bubble has: “We don’t need more teachers” – referring to a quote from Romney in June. Romney’s on the wrong side of teachers on the issues of class size, school funding and making college affordable.


But the union campaign for Obama goes much wider and deeper than love letters.

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Shares for Rights – Unravelling

Reported earlier this week on the blog was the announcement from the Conservative Party conference of the Chancellor’s shares for rights policy: workers trading in their claim to redundancy and other future payments for shares.


The unanswered questions surrounding this policy are mounting: Thompsons Solicitors, the most experienced trade union firm in the UK, says many employees would be trading their cow for half baked beans.

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Mel Stride MP – Out of Step?

Duration of Parental Leave vs Employment

As the Labour Party convenes its’ Women’s Conference in Manchester, UnionHome reports on the threat to maternity leave. 


Mel Stride MP has called from Conservative Home for a review of maternity leave with “a close look at relaxations in protected-employment legislation for smaller businesses”. He cites a OECD table which he says shows maternity leave breaks the relationship between women and the workplace: “female workplace re-engagement for women with young children is actually stronger where maternity rights are less generous to employees and less onerous on employers”.


This is one giant leap of logic for Stride – the correlation is weak enough without the lack of consideration of important factors about the economy and culture of the individual countries. Perhaps Stride has forgotten that the real problem with workplace re-engagement comes from pregnancy discrimination:  the Equal Opportunities Commission in 2005 found that 30 000 women lost their jobs as a result of unlawful pregnancy discrimination every year. That is almost 8% of all pregnant women at work.

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