Published: November 7 2015.
North Ayrshire Council has rejected UK Government plans to further restrict the right of workers to defend their wages and conditions.
Controversial Tory plans would see trade unions have to give police 14-days-notice of intended strike action, would require union stewards to wear armbands during a picket, and would force unions to provide advance notice to police of the content of any proposed texts, Facebook posts or Tweets relating to planned strike action. In addition, a withdrawal of labour would only be permitted if more than 50% of union members voted for the action. If the same criterion was applied to current Tory MPs, 270 of 330 would not have been elected.
In a motion that brought together councillors from the SNP administration and the Labour principal opposition group, NAC agreed that the Tory Trade Union Bill would “restrict the ability of this council to engage in good industrial relations practices with our workforce and their representatives”.
The motion, proposed by Labour’s Joe Cullinane and seconded by the SNP’s Alan Hill, set-out opposition to specific issues within the Bill, stating, “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.
“Council commits 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 functions to ensure the continuation of good industrial relations.”
In supporting the SNP-Labour motion, councillors instructed that the Leader of the Council, the SNP’s Willie Gibson, should write to Sajid Javid, UK Tory Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, stating the council’s opposition to the Trade Union Bill. Cllr Gibson will also write to the Scottish Government, outlining the Council’s position and urging the SNP administration to “do whatever they can to support this approach across the public sector in Scotland.”
An amendment from North Ayrshire’s only Tory councillor, Tom Marshall, had sought to “welcome the provisions of the Trade Union Bill”, arguing that “Any resolution to wilfully not cooperate with the provisions of the Bill is an incitement to law-breaking."
The SNP-Labour motion opposing the Tories’ Trade Union Bill was passed by 21 votes to 3.