Trade Union (Wales) Bill – update

Trade Union (Wales) Bill (“Welsh Bill”) was introduced on 16 January 2017 by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government, Mark Drakeford AM. This Welsh Bill has been introduced by the Welsh Government in order to amend or remove the parts of the UK Trade Union Act 2016 (“UK Bill”) which it didn’t agree with. The Welsh Government said that if left unamended those parts would have “adverse effect on the social partnership approach” in Wales. The social partnership is the Welsh Government’s approach to managing public sector staff and industrial relations in public services in Wales.
The particular provisions include those relating to facility time, the deduction of trade union subscription fees from employee wages and the 40% ballot support threshold for industrial action. The UK Bill seeks to limit facility time (the paid hours their employees are allowed to spend doing union-related activities), restrict the trade union practice of deducting their subscription fees from members’ wages, and include a new vote threshold on industrial action. Currently, a simple 50% majority of the members who vote is required for industrial action, but the UK Bill wants an extra requirement of at least 40% of those eligible to vote, thereby taking advantage of possible voter apathy.

The Welsh Government plans to resist all of these changes in order to maintain the current position. The debate started on the Welsh Bill on 9 May and is now in stage 2 (out of 4) on its way to becoming law.