Government’s trade union reforms to hit Labour funding and diminish strike powers

Unions claim Tories “are taking Britain back to the 1920s”

Trade unions are the Labour party’s chief source of funding, but under new plans announced by the government, members will have to make a conscious decision to opt-in to paying a union’s political levy.

This will be a considerable change to the current system in which subs for a union’s political activity are an automatic part of membership.

The bill, which was described in the Tory manifesto, but did not detail the precise changes to unions’ ability to fund political parties, said that a Conservative government “would legislate to ensure trade unions use a transparent opt-in process for union subscriptions”.

In addition, the bill will make it more difficult for unions to take industrial strike action. The bill will require at least 50% turnout of members, and of those, at least 40% must vote in favour of strike action.

A Unite union spokesman said: “The Tories are taking Britain back to the 1920s with this shamelessly partisan attack on the funding of the opposition party. Political funds are already subject to approval being given in regular ballots by unions. Tory hedge fund and multimillionaire donors will face no similar restrictions, leaving boards free to write hefty cheques backing the Tory party.

“Absent from the Tory manifesto, there is zero popular mandate for this move which is just one more attack on working people. It is clear there is no place for trade unions in Cameron’s ‘one nation’.”

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