ATL comment on the Trade Union Bill
Responding to the Trade Union Bill, Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:
“The Trade Union Bill is yet another instance of the Government putting ideology ahead of the rights of working people.
“The current balloting rules belong to the 1960s. But instead of looking at ways to improve turnouts such as through electronic voting, in all elections including general elections, the Government has spent its time drafting a Bill to reduce democracy in workplaces.
“This Government seems to fear democracy – its Education and Adoptions Bill will limit parents’ rights to object to schools being converted into academies and now the Trade Union Bill will make it hard for teachers, lecturers, support staff and heads to exercise their democratic right to strike.
“Striking is a last resort, and not something ATL members do lightly. We have only held two national strikes in over 130 years, but natural justice demands that it remains a realistic last resort.
“There was not a minimum turnout or voting threshold applied to the recent Scottish referendum, so why is it legitimate to apply them to strike ballots?
“If the Government allows employers to use agency workers to cover for colleagues on strike it would risk inflaming workplace disputes and make it harder to resolve any disputes. And this raises practical issues of whether agency staff could be CRB checked in time to ensure they are safe to work with children.”
“Restricting trade union facility time would be a false economy since trade union representatives help schools and colleges save money by reducing conflict at work, improving health and safety, helping staff work as efficiently as possible, minimising the turnover of teachers and support staff, and boosting teachers’ skills - all of which benefit children. Local authorities and schools already have flexible, reasonable and regularly reviewed arrangements to ensure staff are released for trade union work at times which fit their local circumstances.”