UK: UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of association calls Trade Union Bill "profoundly undemocratic"
Author: Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur rights to freedom of peaceful assembly & association, Published on: 22 April 2016
I would like to once again thank the Government of the United Kingdom (UK) for inviting me to undertake this official follow-up visit from 18 to 21 April 2016...However, my impression at the conclusion of this visit is that a series of separate measures by the Government, some implemented and others proposed, are resulting in the closing of space for civil society...My major concern in the area of labour rights centers on the Trade Union Bill...Chief among them are the new threshold requirements regarding industrial action by unions in “important public services.” As it stands, the Bill would require that 50% of members turn out to vote on industrial action, and that at least 40% of the entire membership – assuming the 50% minimum turnout met – votes in favour of the action. The Government has suggested that this requirement is necessary because industrial actions have an impact upon wider society, beyond workers and employers. They frame it as a more democratic approach. I see it as the opposite: it is profoundly undemocratic...There are other concerns with the Bill as well: provisions which allow the replacement of some striking workers; provisions which restrict picketing in a way that ordinary peaceful assemblies are not restricted; and restrictions on electronic voting.