New poll finds proposed clampdown on union protests 'a waste of police time'

By agency reporter
September 10, 2015

The government’s new restrictions on trade union protests are a waste of police time, according to a new poll published today (10 September).

The poll, carried out by YouGov for the Trades Union Congress (TUC), shows that more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of the public (and 69 per cent of Conservative voters) think making it compulsory for unions to give two weeks’ notice if they intend to use a loudspeaker or carry a banner during a strike is a “bad use of police time”.

A similar number (72 per cent) think forcing unions to submit what they are planning to post on Facebook, Twitter and on blogs during a strike two weeks in advance to the police would be a “bad use of police time”. If unions breach this rule they could be hit with financial penalties of up to £20,000.

The poll also raises concerns over the victimisation of union members. Almost wo-thirds (60 per cent) of the public (and 79 per cent of trade unionists) think making the lead person on a peaceful picket line give their name to their employer will have a negative effect on that person’s career.

The findings come as the government prepares to bring its Trade Union Bill before parliament for its second reading.

The bill was criticised earlier this week by human rights groups as “a major attack on civil liberties in the UK”.

And Ministers have also been criticised by the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) – the government’s red tape watchdog – for trying to rush through the Trade Union Bill without proper consultation.

The RPC described the government’s three impact assessments on its proposals as “red – not fit for purpose” and said the government had failed to make a case for its changes.

The TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “These findings should be a wake-up call to ministers. The public want the police to be out catching criminals not wasting valuable time and resources supervising peaceful picket lines and social media accounts.

“The government’s Trade Union Bill is an attack on the right to strike and will worsen industrial relations. People are rightly concerned that union members will be victimised for taking action to defend their pay and conditions.

“It is great that the public can see through ministers’ rhetoric and recognise how unfair and unnecessary these proposals are.”

* A copy of the TUC’s complaint to the International Labour Organisation about the Trade Union Bill can be found at: https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/ILOcomplaintontheTUBill.pdf

* TUC https://www.tuc.org.uk/

[Ekk/4]

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