Trade Unions - A Force For Good?
A new Trade Union Bill has passed the first test in the Commons
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Different unions represent different groups of people in different sectors, from the BMA, the doctors union, to RMT, the transport union, to Unite, the union for general workers. These unions raise issues that their members have in front of the government. They achieve this by taking direct action holding strikes throughout the country, with all members having the opportunity to vote and partake in strikes.
They go on strike to show they disagree with how the government are treating them. The level of their pay rises has caused friction- with the government refusing to promise a 1% pay rise causing agitation as inflation is growing at just under 3%. Daily necessities are rising by that amount, but if pay rates don’t rise accordingly, it means it costs more to but the items. They also disagree about the public sector reforms, which have seen the retirement age rise.
When public services go on strike it causes disruption to our daily lives -from doctors and nurses going on strike and causing appointments to be pushed back, teachers going on strike which causes parents to take out extra expense in child care arrangements, and when tube/train drivers go on strike it causes commuters to have to find alternative routes.
The government want to limit the power trade unions have by passing a bill in the commons. The new legislation they are trying to bring in is to make sure that strike action is the very last resort; they hope to achieve this by increasing the percentage to 50% of union members having to agree before a strike can take place. They also want to double the amount of notice Trade Unions have to give before they can go on strike from seven days to fourteen days. Currently agency staff aren’t allowed to cover the workers on strike so another reform is to make it possible for agency staff to cover.
The Labour party have been first to criticise as a large part of their support base is the trade unions, this means that the Labour party support and recognise the needs of trade unions. Trade unions also account for a large part of the party finances and without them the party would struggle.
The bill has passed the second reading and is on to the next set to becoming legislation.