Commenting on the debate in the Commons that has seen the government accept many of the Trade Union Bill amendments made last week in the Lords, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:
“Without these significant changes, unions representing working people across the UK would have found it hard to continue doing what they do best – speaking up for those being treated badly at work and campaigning for a fairer society.
“Of course we’d rather the Bill had never existed, and there is much that is still wrong with it. Even with today’s amendments it still places unnecessary burdens on working people and their unions.
“But ministers have sensibly listened to many of the arguments put to them. They have rowed back from many of the proposals that would have placed unbearable restrictions on unions’ ability to function in public sector workplaces across the country.
“These measures would have stopped unions from collecting members’ subs via their pay packets. They would also have prevented reps from taking time away from their jobs to represent colleagues, and made it much harder for unions to campaign against unfairness at work.
“Over the years union campaigns have made a real difference, whether it’s been pushing for a minimum wage or for extra bank holidays.
“Restricting unions’ ability to raise funds for this kind of campaigning would have hampered efforts to make the UK a safer, better and fairer place to work.
“Now we can continue to provide valuable help to employees whenever they need it, and work with employers to ensure the UK’s public services are the best they can be.”
Last week the government decided that unions in the public sector could continue to use check-off to collect subs from their members. Ministers have also backed away from imposing a cap on union facility time across the UK’s public services, having originally proposed to introduce this within six months of the Trade Union Bill becoming law. Changes to unions’ political funds will now only apply to new members and unions are to be given more time to make the necessary changes.