Borough councillors in Yarmouth vote against letter opposing Trade Union Bill
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Borough councillors in Great Yarmouth have voted against sending a letter of opposition to the Government against the Trade Union Bill, which is going through parliament.
The legislation, if passed, means unions would have to double to 14 days the amount of notice given before a strike can be held.
They would also need 50pc of members to ballot legally for strike action and the Bill would also allow employers to use agency workers to replace striking staff and end the system where members can pay for their membership through their salary.
They would instead have to pay by direct debit.
A motion put forward by the Labour group of councillors on Tuesday said that the provisions in the bill are 'unfair, unnecessary and undemocratic', highlighting areas such as the 'continuing denial' of the right to vote by e-balloting, and the legislation forcing union members to opt in, rather than opt out, to payment of union political funds.
The motion detailed that 'the proposals in the bill restrict the right of freedom of association, and in some cases may restrict also restrict the right to freedom and assembly.'
Several councils have already voted to oppose the bill around the UK.
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Labour Group leader Councillor Trevor Wainwright said: 'The Trade Union Bill is seen by ordinary working people as doing nothing to strengthen the UK economy. It is seen as a direct attack on trade unions in a way that cuts across fundamental freedoms.'
However, council leader and Conservative group leader, Cllr Graham Plant, said he disagreed with the motion on various points.
He said: 'Both of the motions proposed at Tuesday's meeting have been picked off the TUC website, basically its two union motions not Labour motions.'
Another motion proposed sending a letter of support for British Steel to Mayor of Redcar, Brenda Forster.
'But beside that, I cannot agree with many of the points. The motion states there is a lack of evidence to support such wide-ranging restrictions and uses a drop in the amount of industrial days as an example, quoting a figure of 7 million days lost in the 1980s compared to 647,000 days lost between 2010 - 2014.
'Presumably then they want to go back to the 1980s and I can't support that.
'It also talks about e-balloting, but there are a number of serious security concerns with this system. And I think its right that the legislature would ask people to opt in. Opt out doesn't work if you don't know that you're opting in the first place, similar to payment protection insurance, and then you don't know that some of your money is going to a political party.
'It's about protecting people in the trade unions, not just the select few, and about not just taking money without knowing what is happening with it.'
Members of several trade unions sat in the public gallery during the meeting to hear the debate. Kevin Reynolds, secretary and Great Yarmouth organiser for Unite The Union said: 'Trade unionists are here to show support for Cllr Wainwright's motion opposing the TU bill. This is a vindictive, ideological and anti-democratic piece of legislation that no one wants and the public should be aware of.
'It marks an attack on the civil liberties and workplace rights of ordinary working people.'
In the vote, the Labour group and two independents voted in favour of writing a letter of opposition, but the motion was lost on a combination of Conservative and UKIP votes.