I strongly oppose the Trade Union Bill because it undermines the basic protections that trade unions provide for people at work.

Trade unions are an important part of an open, democratic society. I am very concerned, therefore, that the Government’s Bill seeks simply to weaken trade unions rather than to work with them in order to help boost economic efficiency and tackle Britain’s major economic challenges including our worrying productivity gap and skills shortages.

This Bill will drive a false wedge between government, industry, employees and the public by severely restricting the rights of ordinary working people to challenge important workplace issues such as low pay or health and safety concerns. As a result, this Bill could damage industrial relations and make it harder to prevent strike action and disruption.

I am also very concerned about plans to allow employers to use agency workers to break strikes. This will undermine the ability of workers to push for improvements to their circumstances, and may cause problems if those agency workers are not properly qualified.

Workers don’t enjoy having to go on strike; it is always a last resort. However, the right to strike is a vital one, and without it workers would have never been able to win so many of the rights that we enjoy today. The fact that instances of striking are at a historical low underlines the shameless political nature of this Bill.

Labour MPs voted against this Bill at every opportunity in the House of Commons. I know from the number of e-mails and letters I have received that many constituents share my concerns about this Bill. Labour will continue to work to ensure that the concerns of working people in this country are represented to the Government.

The Trade Union Act 2016 received Royal Assent on May 4th 2016. Through cross-party working in the House of Lords, some of the worst elements of the Trade Union Bill were removed. Government defeats showed the weight of opposition to the Bill and also offered opportunities for the Government to hear some of the genuine and deeply felt concerns about it.

Despite all the concessions from the Government following determined opposition, I remained opposed to the Bill. The Trade Union Act is entirely unnecessary and is bad for workers and businesses. It risks damaging industrial relations and undermining constructive employment relations.

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