The Tories plan to drop the section of the Trade Union Bill that would require trade unions to give two weeks notice to the police of any material they plan to post on social media as part of a strike.
The social media rules, heavily criticised and entirely unworkable, were always likely to be the section of the Bill to be dropped in order to win over Tories, like David Davies MP, who thought this was “going a bit far”. However, the rest of the bill, as it reaches the end of committee stages in the House of Commons, remains largely intact. The worst attack on workers’ rights since Thatcher′s anti-union laws are likely to pass in the House of Commons.
The Bill will then proceed to the House of Lords, where it may be amended or knocked back for reworking. There is something particularly grotesque about an unelected House of Lords, which includes hereditary peers and representatives of the Church, passing judgement on the democratic procedures trade unions must use.
Activity around the Bill has increased across the country, and many trades councils have now held public meetings about the bill. But these meetings need to just do more than be an echo chamber for our disgust at the Bill. They need to co-ordinate local trade unionists to actively campaign, run street stalls, petitions, demonstrations, protests and lobbies.
Trade union leaders and the TUC have not quite heralded the planned dropping of the social media rules as a victory, but they certainly see it as a step on the way to other elements being dropped. This is naive.
The union leaders’ formula of using friendly amendments, giving evidence in the committee stages, challenging the legality or feasibility of certain sections, and using the House of Lords to gradually chip away at the bill, is not going to be anywhere near enough. How much of the Bill will remain when they declare victory?
On Monday 2 November the TUC has a lobby of Parliament which was intended to be held just prior to the third reading and to put pressure on MPs. The lobby should be supported by as many people who can get there, but many rank-and-file trade unionists will not be able to make a mid-week lobby.
The Trade Union Coordinating Group (the Parliamentary group of left-leaning unions) is calling for a nationwide day of action on 2 November, supported by Right to Strike, Unite the Resistance and the National Shop Stewards Network. There will be a protest at Parliament at 6pm on Monday 2 November. Local activities have already been organised in Lewisham, Nottingham, Newcastle and Sheffield. Will you organise activity in your area on the day?
Right to Strike continues to organise protests and public activity across the country.
Join us at our national meeting on 31 October, in Birmingham, to help decide our campaigning activity and to get involved.
• Lewisham: 6 pm, 2 November at Lewisham Clock Tower
• Nottingham RMT activists will be leafletting commuters on 2 November. Contact Tony Byrne
• Main Facebook event
• Right to Strike National Meeting, Saturday 31 October, 12, The Wellington, 37 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5SN.