More than 300 Northampton union members back campaign to scrap bill aimed at curbing strikes

The Trade Union Bill is set for discussion at the Guildhall tonight.
The Trade Union Bill is set for discussion at the Guildhall tonight.

A petition calling for the Trade Union Bill to be scrapped is set to be handed to Northampton Borough Council tonight ahead of a debate on the proposals.

The Northampton Trades Union Council has gathered more than 300 signatures in a bid to stop the proposed Conservative bill, which would make it harder for disgruntled workers to strike.

Secretary for the NTUC, Graham Croucher, said; “The bill is unfair, unnecessary and un-needed.

“It’s going to make it harder for people to protest and take action against unjust decisions.”

The Trade Union Bill proposes that strike ballots would require a minimum turn-out of 50 per cent, with public sector strikes in essential services also requiring the backing of at least 40 per cent of those eligible to vote.

It would double the amount of notice unions would have to give before a strike can be held, from seven to 14 days; allow employers to use agency workers to replace striking staff and introduce fines of up to £20,000 on unions if pickets do not wear an official armband.

It would also end the so-called “check-off” system for collecting union subs direct from a salary.

Deputy leader of the Labour group, Councillor Gareth Eales (Lab, Spencer) is set to discuss the council’s stance towards the Trade Union Bill at the Guildhall this evening as part of a motion submitted under opposition business.

He said: “Trade unions currently play an important role in our society through effective democracy, helping ensure good employment practices which directly promote economic competitiveness, and social justice in our society.

“All trade unionists in Northampton vehemently oppose this bill.”

He added that he thought the bill, which was debated in Parliament this week, was “an unashamed attack on trade unions by the Tories.”

He added: “Make no mistake the very principle of the right to strike is under threat and will allow employers to bus in agency workers to break a strike.”