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Scottish government wants opt-out from Trade Union Bill

The Scottish government has asked to be excluded from the entire Trade Union Bill because it thinks the legislation will harm the relationship between public organisations and unions, affect employees’ right to strike and leave far too much scope for abuse.

The Bill, which will tighten rules on strike action by setting thresholds for strike ballots, has recently cleared its second reading in the House of Commons despite widespread concern that it is “draconian, vindictive and counterproductive”.

And in the latest of a series of backlash against it, Scottish work skills and training secretary, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, requested that the country be left out of the Bill’s scope in a letter to skills minister Nick Boles MP.

She reiterated the SNP’s position that the Bill’s proposals could undermine the engagement of unions across Scottish workplaces, particularly amongst the public sector.

“The proposals are in stark contrast with this government’s approach, set out through Working Together review response and the Fair Working Convention, which are looking to build a stronger, more collaborative approach to the relationship between unions, employees and employers. Our strategy reflects that of many of the most successful European countries.

“It is our view that all the measures within the Bill in combination will affect employees’ right to strike, change the relationship between unions and organisations negatively, and lead to greater confusion amongst employees.

“This directly impacts across Scottish business and especially our devolved public services in Scotland. I believe this is not a constructive platform upon which we can pursue our ambition for Scottish workers,” Cunningham said.

She voiced significant concerns over the Bill’s current draft, which leaves far too much scope for abuse in the future.

And since much of its details are set to be confirmed in regulations, over which the Scottish government would have no formal influence, the Bill could seriously undermine the progressive approach Scotland is trying to develop.

She added: “I believe this is the only way in which we will be able to maintain the integrity of our more progressive approach of working in partnership with unions.

“And I therefore ask for an alternative extent clause to be introduced as one of the UK government’s amendments to the Bill.”

On behalf of the Scottish government, Cunningham asked the parliamentary counsel’s office to draft an alternative extent clause for the Bill that they believe could ensure the Scottish approach to industrial relations and devolved public services remains steered by their ministers and parliament.

The extent clause is as follows:

(1) Except as provided for in subsection (2), an amendment or repeal made by this Act has the same extent as the enactment to which it relates.

(2) Nothing in this Act, including any amendment or repeal made by it, extends to Scotland.”

Despite views that the Bill is an attack on the trade union movement, the UK government has previously guaranteed it is not a ‘declaration of war’ and will merely modernise and reform how industrial action is staged.

(Top image c. Tim Goode)


Frank Harwood   19/10/2015 at 12:40

It is time that all laws throughout the U K where universal with no special differences to any area. Scotland voted to remain part of the U K and should accept all decisions.

Biggles   19/10/2015 at 13:43

The Scots want their jam and eat it too. One the one hand they do not want English Votes for English Laws and on the other they plead to be a special case.

Ppennell   27/10/2015 at 15:35

Can England be excluded too please?

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