It looks as though this anti-trade union, anti-Labour Party bill is turning into a dead letter.
With the ‘check off’ system that allows trade union members to have their subscription automatically deducted from their salaries safeguarded, workers will not have to opt into paying union rates – a move that had been predicted to cost the Labour Party up to £8 million a year in lost support.
Ministers have already said they are ready to offer concessions on other parts of the bill, such as electronic balloting (the government didn’t want to allow it).
Does that leave anything of any importance?
The Government executed an embarrassing U-turn on its flagship trade union reforms tonight after even Tory peers said it was going too far.
Ministers had tried to scrap the ‘check off’ system which means many trade union members have their subscription deducted from their salaries.
Instead, members would have to sign up separately via a direct debit but trade union leaders warned the reforms would mean moderate members would disappear – losing them individual benefits of membership and costing the unions millions in subscription fees.
Tonight a Conservative peer tabled an amendment to the legislation in the House of Lords prompting the Government to abandon the plan altogether.
Ministers had already suffered heavy defeats over another aspect of the Bill, relating to union contributions to the Labour Party, before Easter.
The Government faces a race against time to get a version of the new laws agreed by Parliament before the end of the session – expected no later than May 12 – or risk losing the flagship Bill altogether.
Facing the Tory rebellion tonight, Cabinet Office minister Lord Bridges of Headley said: ‘I fear that my trying to convince you of our case may simply add grist to the mill of those who see this measure as a means of undermining trade unions themselves.
‘This is certainly not and never has been the Government’s intention.
‘Trade unions play a crucial role in companies, organisations and communities across the country.’
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