Activists will be branded troublemakers under new laws
IDEOLOGICAL attacks on trade unions will create state-sponsored blacklisting, campaigners warned yesterday.
The Trade Union Bill, which is expected to receive its second reading in the Commons this month, will impose arbitrary turnout thresholds on strike ballots.
Other measures include allowing more time for employers to bring in scab agency workers and requiring union members to “opt in” to political funds if they want to contribute to them.
Further requirements for picket supervisors to register their names with police, wear bright armbands and carry a letter of authorisation from their union at all times will brand organisers as “troublemakers,” construction union Ucatt warned.
This could also “open them up to a lifetime of blacklisting by their employers,” the union said.
Ucatt national secretary Brian Rye added: “Ordinary workers acting as picket organisers will be targeted and, no doubt, blacklisted by employers. We’ve seen this before in the construction industry.
“It’s a reality we deal with every day. This Bill will effectively enforce the restrictions of a police state on the British worker. It’s an unprecedented level of attack on workers, something not applied to the likes of bankers who devastated our economy.”
Ucatt is currently embroiled in high-profile legal action to obtain proper compensation for members blacklisted by construction companies.
The union itself was infiltrated by a member of the Metropolitan Police’s special demonstration squad in the mid-90s.
Professor of public law Keith Ewing said: “The police are being asked to become agents for the employer, while the employer is being asked to become an agent for the police.
“Here we have the government imposing a duty on picket supervisors to produce their letter of authorisation to anyone who reasonably wants to see it. Presumably this will include employers.
“The risk is that this information will then be easily distributed in construction and other industries.
“In the light of the recent scandal and the unresolved business of blacklisting, workers will rightly be cautious about giving any information to employers about picketing.”