Thursday, 1 July 2010

Cut red tape? Let's start with the anti-union laws

HM Government has just wasted a load of public money on a bit of gimmicky social media - they just can't help themselves, can they? The offending website, launched today, is "Your Freedom", which invites the public to enter into "the dialogue" to make proposals under these headings:
Restoring civil liberties
Which current laws would you like to remove or change because they restrict your civil liberties?

Repealing unnecessary laws
Which offences do you think we should remove or change, and why?

Cutting business and third sector regulations
Which regulations do you think should be removed or changed to make running your business or organisation as simple as possible?
A quick-witted socialist, Owen Jones, got on there to propose that the restrictive anti-union laws introduced by Thatcher and maintained by New Labour should be abolished.

How popular this proposal is it is impossible to check at the moment, because the website is down, owing to too much traffic!

On the same theme, of abolishing the anti-union laws, I am happy to report that left-wing Labour MP John McDonnell has come top of the ballot for Private Members' Bills.

This was a karmic consolation prize for withdrawing from the race to be in the Labour leadership race. He asked all his sponsors to back Diane Abbott instead, knowing that neither would reach the threshold (why have a threshold?) of sponsoring Labour MPs if one did not withdraw. And knowing that there was damn all chance of Diane Abbott withdrawing. (In any case, her sponsors would probably not all have backed McDonnell.)

McDonnell's bill is incredibly reasonable. If the same rules applied to Parliamentary candidates as are being applied to unions in regard to their strike ballots, there would not be a single MP that could take their seat without being open to a legal challenge.

The press release for the bill says:
After coming first in the Private Members' Ballot and in consultation with the trade union movement and leading trade union lawyers, John McDonnell MP is sponsoring the "Lawful Industrial Action (Minor Errors) Bill" to tackle the increasing practice by employers of using minor technical errors in the balloting process - which have no material effect on the outcome - to take unions to court in order to prevent them from taking industrial action.

...The Bill has been co-signed by Kate Hoey MP, Tony Lloyd MP, Dave Anderson MP, Michael Connarty MP, Austin Mitchell MP, Frank Doran MP, Kelvin Hopkins MP, Jim Sheridan MP, David Crausby MP, Ian Lavery MP and John Cryer MP.

Second Reading of the Bill will be 22nd October 2010. There will be a mass rally and lobby of parliament on the 13th October 2010.

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