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TUC votes for day of action against Trade Union Bill

The TUC is holding its conference in Brighton. Credit: PA

The TUC Congress has voted to hold a co-ordinated day of national action against the Trade Union Bill.

The bill, which would tighten rules on strike ballots in Britain, passed its first major parliamentary hurdle on Monday when MPs passed it by 33 votes at the second reading stage.

Unite leader Len McCluskey told the conference in Brighton that his union will oppose the bill using "any means necessary" to defend the democratic rights and freedoms of workers.

He said: "This Prime Minister seeks to paint the millions of trade unionists and their families as 'the enemy within', with a Tory party drunk on class prejudice, intent on destroying this movement as a force in British life."

If made law, the bill would introduce a new 50% threshold on participation in strike ballots, as well as changes requiring picketers to give their names to police.


TUC: Volunteer days could be used at union activities

A union has welcomed Conservative plans to give emplyess three days paid leave to take part in voluntary wor.

The TUC said that members would be able to use the time to get more involved in their union.

The TUC has long called for a Community Day Bank Holiday to encourage volunteering and community engagement. We therefore welcome any move that makes employers recognise the benefits of volunteering and social action.

Trade unions are the UK's biggest voluntary groups. This new right will give every union member a guaranteed three days for time off to get involved with union activities.

– Frances O'Grady, TUC general secretary

Union: 'We have the highest rail fares in Europe'

At a TUC demonstration outside King's Cross, Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA transport union, said:

Wage rises are just not keeping up with fare rises. We have the highest fares in Europe.

People are forking out a large slice of their disposable income on fares.

Also, we are not encouraging the turn-up-and-go-railway because if you pay on the day the ticket price is very high.

– Mick Whelan, general secretary of train drivers' union Aslef

Union: Tribunal fees 'are victory for UK's worst bosses'

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said:

Employment tribunal fees have been a huge victory for Britain's worst bosses.

By charging up-front fees for harassment and abuse claims the Government has made it easier for bad employers to get away with the most appalling behaviour.

Tribunal fees are part of a wider campaign to get rid of workers' basic rights. The consequence has been to price low-paid and vulnerable people out of justice.

– Frances O'Grady

Employment tribunal fees see claims drop 80%

Introducing fees for employment tribunals has been a "huge victory" for the country's worst bosses and has led to a collapse in the number of claims, according to a new report.

The TUC said women and low-paid workers had been worst affected since the Government brought in fees of up to £1,200 last year.

The total number of claims had fallen by 79%, but there had been an 80% cut in sex discrimination claims, while cases of unpaid wages and holiday pay were down by 85%, a study found.

TUC boss Frances O'Grady said the introduction of tribunal fees were a victory for bad bosses. Credit: PA


Unions say strike action will continue until election

Union leaders have warned the Government that industrial action will continue into next year.

At a huge rally in Trafalgar Square, unions made it clear the action would stretch to the run-up to the general election.

Matt Wrack, leader of the Fire Brigades Union, said more strikes should be held "soon."

"What we see today is an inkling of the power that rests in the hands of working people," he said.

Unions said more than a million people turned out to support today's strike. Credit: PA

"We have a government destroying our public services and wrecking the lives of public servants. This is our 15th strike, and we are not giving up. There is no mood to surrender, but there is a mood to continue the fight."

National Union of Teachers general secretary Christine Blower said: "I've been getting messages from people saying that they are more determined now than they were in the past to take action."

The Department for Education said there is "no justification" for further strikes.

Tory plans to change strike ballot laws 'utter hypocrisy'

Unions have hit out at Conservative plans to change strike balloting laws as "utter hypocrisy".

The Conservatives are drawing up plans to change employment law so that a threshold of those balloted would have to be reached before industrial action could be held.

But Unite said no Tory Cabinet member achieved a 50 percent voting threshold in the last general election.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey accused the Tories of hypocrisy. Credit: PA

General secretary Len McCluskey said: "It is utter hypocrisy for the Government to talk about mandates for trade unions when not a single member of the present Cabinet would have been elected using the same criteria.

"The fact is not a single councillor in England has won 50 percent of the electorate, not a single MEP has reached the 50 percent threshold, Boris Johnson scraped in with just 37 percent in 2008 and the Government's flagship police and crime commissioner election gained a risible 17 percent."

Cable: Tory turnout limit 'undermines workers' rights'

Vince Cable has attacked the Conservatives' plan to introduce a reported 50 percent minimum threshold in ballots for industrial action, accusing David Cameron's party of "undermining basic workers’ rights".

The Business Secretary said the Liberal Democrats "disagreed with the Tories’ assertion that a small turnout in strike-action ballots undermines the basic legitimacy of the strike."

Business Secretary Vince Cable. Credit: PA

He said: "If they want to look at minimum turnout this would have major implications for other democratic turnouts and elections. Many MPs have been elected by well under 50 percent of their electorate, let alone Police Commissioners or MEPs.

"Why have a threshold in a ballot but not make our elected politicians or shareholders face the same hurdle?"

Cable added: "The Tories will try and use today’s event as way to undermine basic workers’ rights."

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