Aberdeenshire UNISON

Campaign to defeat the Trade Union Bill

23rd November 2015

Branch joins council's political leaders to say no to the Trade Union Bill

Branch with council leaders

Kate Ramsden and Morag Lawrence join council leaders
to say no to the Trade Union Bill

Branch representatives joined Aberdeenshire councillors from the Labour, SNP, LibDem and Progressive Independent Groups on Monday 23rd November in opposition to the Trade Union Bill.

Branch Chair, Kate Ramsden said, "The Tory Trade Union Bill is the most draconian legislation against trade unions in the Western world and if it becomes law it will deny workers a voice at work, and their rights to support and representation.

"It is an attack not just on our hard won employment rights but on our human rights, including to be safe and healthy at our work.

"We are delighted that the political leadership of Aberdeenshire council values the important role that trade unions play in the workplace and has joined us in opposing the bill.

"We thank them for taking such a robust position against the Trade Union Bill."

The Partnership Administration of Aberdeenshire Council wrote to the Branch in September to confirm that they support the continuation of check-off (whereby union members can pay their union subscriptions from their salary) and also support facility time. They have stated that "the Partnership has no intention of supporting the use of agency staff in the unlikely event of any industrial action."

The event was organised by Councillors Alison Evison, Labour and Ross Cassie, SNP.


2nd November 2015

Branch goes to the "heart of government" and lobbies parliament to say no to the "unfair, undemocratic and unnecessary" trade union bill

Westminster rally
Kate Ramsden and Deirdre Macdonald, Aberdeen City UNISON join the rally outside

Aberdeenshire branch joined thousands of trade unionists in London on 2nd November in a mass lobby of MPs calling on them to vote against the Trade Union Bill.

Branch Chair, Kate Ramsden was the sole branch delegate after Inez Teece, Susan Kennedy and Steven Gray were left stranded in Aberdeen as fog in London cancelled flights from around the country.

Kate joined forces with Deirdre Macdonald of Aberdeen City Branch whose colleagues were also stranded in Aberdeen.

Frances O'Grady at rally
Packed rally hears from Frances O'Grady

At a packed rally in Central Hall, Westminster, which left thousands unable to get in, speakers from trade unions and campaigning groups condemned the trade union bill. Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC slammed it as "unfair, undemocratic and unnecessary."

Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty called on trade unionists to "reject Tory attempts to divide and rule. Trade unionists are members of the public," said Shami.

Speaker after speaker pointed to the unfairness of increasing ballot requirements for strike action, which would have left only 60 Tory MPs in parliament if applied in the General Election, whilst at the same time refusing the right to electronic balloting.

They condemned it as "draconian" saying that curbs on trade unions would be more extreme than in Franco's Spain, undermining human rights as well as employment rights.

General Secretary, Dave Prentis had earlier called the bill "a nightmare made on Downing Street," and tweeted that it was "all trick and no treat!"

"These spiteful proposals will deny millions of ordinary workers a voice at work," he added.

Please click on the link below and tweet your MP and ask them to oppose this bill.

Tweet your MP by clicking here

During the rally trade unionists made their way in groups to the House of Commons to meet their MPs and to call for their support to oppose the Trade Union Bill. Central Lobby was packed with people waiting to see their MP and was abuzz with excitement and enthusiasm as workers took the arguments right into the heart of government.

Kate and Deirdre meet Dr Lisa Cameron
Kate and Deirdre meet with Dr Lisa cameron, SNP MP

Alex Salmond, their constituency MP was not in London so he arranged for Deirdre and Kate to meer with Dr Lisa Cameron, SNP MP and shadow justice spokesperson for the party, who had been a member of the bill scrutiny committee.

Kate said, "Dr Cameron was very supportive and told us that the SNP would be voting against the bill.

"Having been on the scrutiny committee and having heard from many interests she told us she can see no reason for this legislation except to undermine the rights of ordinary workers to have a voice at work."

Deirdre added, "She agreed with us that trade unions have a very important in the workplace to support members' employment rights but also to ensure their wider health and safety and human rights."

Dr Cameron pledged that the SNP MPs would do all they can to amend and oppose the bill.

Kate and Deirdre with Jeremy Corbyn
Kate and Deirdre with Jeremy Corbyn. Labour leader

Deirdre and Kate were also fortunate enough to meet Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party who welcomed us to parliament.

He expressed his opposition to the bill and pledged, "solidarity with trade union members from across the country protesting in London this afternoon."

On Tuesday 3rd November Kate met two more SNP MPs, Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff and Buchan, where many of our members live, and Chris Stephens, MP for Glasgow South West and UNISON member.

Like Dr Cameron, Chris Stephens is on the scrutiny committee for the TU Bill. He explained the amendments that the SNP will be tabling to mitigate the worst aspects of the bill. Labour are likely to support these and the SNP will also support Labour's amendments. The opposition parties are working together to amend or throw out this bill.

Kate with Eilidh Whiteford and Chris Stephen
Eilidh Whiteford MP and Chris Stephen MP standing with the unions against the TU Bill

Kate said, "Both Chris and Eilidh Whiteford listened to and were familiar with the trade union concerns about strike ballot rules; the refusal to allow electronic balloting; the provision to use agency wokers; the planned removal of DOCAS; and cuts to facility time.

"Like Lisa Cameron they pledged to vote against the bill at all stages, and to work to amend it if that is all that is open to them. They could see no value to the untold damage it would inflict on the trade unions and their members."


4th October 2015

Branch joins 100,000 marchers to say NO to cuts and YES to workers' rights

Delegates on march
Morag Lawrence, Kate Ramsden, Susan Kennedy and Inez Teece with branch banner in Manchester

Branch delegates travelled to Manchester on 4th October to join the TUC march and demonstration against austerity and against the Trade Union bill, on the first day of the Tory Party Conference.

Click here to see more photos on picasa

Tens of thousands of trade unionists joined other activists and protesters to give a loud and clear message to the Tories - "We will not stand by and see the poor and vulnerable targetted with cuts whilst the richest in the UK double their wealth. We will not stand by and see workers' rights and human rights trod underfoot by a government of the rich, for the rich."


Branch banner on the march through
the streets of Manchester

As the sun shone the marchers made a colourful display as they snaked through the streets of Manchester. The Tories meantime, hid themselves away behind a "ring of steel" - barriers and security to keep away real people.

Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair said, "It was brilliant to see so many people speaking out with one voice against Tory policies which hit the poorest hardest but squeeze all but the richest in our society.

"The Tories have no idea about the suffering of ordinary people and they care less. For all their talk of being the "party of the workers" their policies hit workers the hardest."

Delegates with Heather Wakefield, head of UNISON Local Government
Delegates with Heather Wakefield, head of UNISON Local Government and branch nomination for General Secretary

The Branch has pledged to fight attacks on workers through the Trade Union Bill and will be spreading the word to members and non-members throughout the council, about the threat to workers' rights that the bill represents.

Inez Teece, Branch Secretary added, "We are delighted that Aberdeenshire Council and CoSLA are standing with us against this bill. Indeed the Scottish Government and all the political parties bar the Tories are opposing it in Scotland.

"We will be joining the lobby against the bill at Westminster on 2nd November and will be asking our MPs to meet with us and to stand with us against the Trade Union bill."


18th September 2015

Aberdeenshire Council stands with the unions against the Trade Union Bill and will not end facility time and check-off

Protect the right to strikeThe Partnership Administration of Aberdeenshire Council has written to the Branch to confirm that they support the continuation of check-off (whereby union members can pay their union subscriptions from their salary) and also support facility time. They have stated that "the Partnership has no intention of supporting the use of agency staff in the unlikely event of any industrial action."

The Branch has welcomed this commitment from the Partnership Administration and looks forward to working alongside them to defeat the Trade Union Bill.

The full text of the letter is below.

It comes as CoSLA, the umbrella body for councils in Scotland also pledged "to stand shoulder to shoulder with their trade union colleagues against the UK Government's Trade Union Bill."

CoSLA statement

CoSLA's HR Spokesman Councillor Billy Hendry said;

"COSLA and the Local Government Trade Unions have a shared and long established commitment to joint working. Our partnership extends beyond industrial relations to bring joint solutions to the delivery of essential and valued public services.

"COSLA Leaders are highly concerned that these changes are being brought in with no evidence to back up the assertion that this would modernise the industrial relations between councils and their trade unions.

"We have a constructive environment now where we work WITH our trade union partners to the benefit of all communities in Scotland.

"The UK Government, through this Bill, would force councils into changing the arrangements for "check off" and facility time which work well for both parties and the cost of these arrangements are already covered by direct contributions from the trade unions themselves.

"Scottish Councils are devolved public bodies and we are making it clear that we consider ourselves empowered to make our own arrangements with the trade unions in these matters. We will honour and protect existing industrial relations arrangements in local government.

"COSLA will now work with the trade unions to persuade the Westminster Government to reconsider this unnecessary and unjustified imposition which could ultimately lead to more industrial unrest across the country."


28th Sept 2015

Dear Inez,

Thank you very much for writing to us about the Trade Union Bill.

The Partnership Administration of Aberdeenshire Council values the excellent and mutually respectful way of working from which employer, employees and residents all benefit in Aberdeenshire. 

We share your concerns that the Trade Union Bill, being proposed by the Westminster Government, will have a detrimental effect on relations between the Council and employee representatives. 

The Partnership believes that union representatives need facility time in which to conduct their legitimate business.  The current system of check-off has advantages for all involved, and we support its continuation. 

Furthermore, the Partnership has no intention of supporting the use of agency staff in the unlikely event of any industrial action.

It is our wish that Aberdeenshire Council should be able to carry on working alongside the local unions as it has always done.

Best regards,

Richard Thomson - Leader of the SNP Group, Aberdeenshire
Alison Evison - Leader of the Scottish Leader Group, Aberdeenshire
Martin Kitts-Hayes - Leader of the Progressive Independents, Aberdeenshire


18th September 2015
Branch urges Aberdeenshire Councillors to oppose the bill

Protect workers' rightsThe Branch has urged Aberdeenshire Council's elected members to work with the trade unions to defeat the Trade Union Bill currently under debate at Westminster.

Branch delegates will take part in a mass demonstration at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester on Sunday 4th October, to join our voice with all those calling for the Bill to be dropped.

The Branch has also called on all our members, families, friends and the public to sign the petition against the bill.

And to write to your MP calling for them to oppose it in parliament.

Inez Teece
Inez Teece

Inez Teece, Branch Secretary has written to all councillors calling for them to "help to prevent this Bill being enacted, by influencing your party, your constituents and both Holyrood and Westminster Governments."

She warned that the Bill will, if adopted, introduce the most draconian restrictions on workers’ rights within the Western world.

"I believe if Trade Unions were restricted in such a way by the Trade Union Bill, local authorities would be more vulnerable because they would not have trade unions fighting alongside."

The full text of the letter is below.

Kate Ramsden
Kate Ramsden

Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair added, "The Trade Union Bill weakens our voice at work, and weakens our campaigning voice. It undermines the right to strike, union organisation and aims to make it harder for unions to win a fairer deal at work.

"As Dave Prentis, UNISON's General Secretary has said, "It is yet another malicious attack from a government determined to deny ordinary working people a voice at work. But it's an attack we expected, and one we've seen off before. If we act together as one union, I know that we can rise to this challenge, build a stronger union and continue to speak up for our members.""

Click here to read the UNISON Scotland Briefing on the TU Bill


Branch letter to Aberdeenshire councillors

Dear Councillor


I am writing to you as Branch Secretary for Aberdeenshire UNISON and a concerned resident of Aberdeenshire, Scotland and Britain.

At present the current Westminster Government are proposing to introduce “The Trade Union Bill” which will, if adopted, introduce the most draconian restrictions on workers’ rights within the Western World.

I believe that in Aberdeenshire we have an excellent and mutually respectful way of working, achieving the best for both the residents of Aberdeenshire and the people that provide those services.

If the Bill is passed this relationship would be all but obliterated.  With restrictions to time and joining a trade union, representation etc., all of which would impact on Aberdeenshire Councils ability to carry out its business.

UNISON fights for public services and campaigns to defend those services.  We work with Local Authorities to promote the valuable services we provide.

I believe if Trade Unions were restricted in such a way by the Trade Union Bill, local authorities would be more vulnerable because they would not have trade unions fighting alongside.

I believe that in Scotland that no one wants this bill to be passed or come into force; we in Scotland have always had a more collaborative approach to industrial relations.

I would ask that you as political activists help to prevent this Bill being enacted.  By influencing your party, your constituents and both Holyrood and Westminster Governments.

The people of Aberdeenshire deserve the best of services and together we have done and can continue to do so if the Bill is defeated.

Attached is the UNISON Policy briefing re Trade Union Bill and Scotland for your information.

Yours sincerely
Branch Secretary


September 2015

Branch calls on members to ask their MP to oppose the Trade Union Bill - an attempt to silence workers' voices

Protect workers' rightsUNISON and all the other trade unions are gearing up to protect members rights by opposing the Trade Union Bill, which represents one of the most aggressive anti-trade union laws ever proposed in a Western democracy and restricts rights protected by international law in England, Scotland and Wales.

Taken together with the Lobbying Act and the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees in Great Britain, the Bill is a further attempt to silence workers’ voices. 

It seeks to restrict industrial action further than international standards permit, to limit peaceful protest and to subject unions and union activists to unprecedented levels of state scrutiny. 

Public sector workers are subjected to further attacks on their facility time and on their ability to pay their subs by DOCAS or ‘check off’.

The Trade Union Bill goes for its second reading Monday 14th September in the Houses of Parliament with the intention of being approved by the UK Government on Monday 2nd November.

Steve Gray
Steve Gray

Steve Gray, Branch Development Officer has called on all Branch members to click on the link below and write to their MPs.


And to take action by signing the petition against the bill.

Steve said, "This is the biggest challenge facing trade unions and our members that we have ever faced. We need to act now.

Protect the right to strike"The headline is the right to strike but the imposition of a trade union regulator, fees on unions to pay for the regulator, power to impose fines for breaches of regulations, vetting and registration of trade union reps, prior clearance of all printed and social media press releases is very worrying for a democratic society." 

MPs will soon get their first chance to debate the government's controversial trade union bill, as it receives its second reading in the Commons. It's an important chance to raise early objections to this divisive legislation.

The second reading will be Monday 14 September, and the government are keen to rush this through as quickly as they can.

"We need to brief our MPs so they know that their constituents have expectations of them, and are watching their actions."

Steve warned, "New measures in the bill, being introduced at the same time would fundamentally damage the right to strike in the UK. Employers would be able to use agency temp workers to break strikes. Heavy new restrictions would be placed on peaceful protest and picketing.

"Unprecedented extra hurdles would be placed in front of strike ballots. And the government would have powers to restrict the work of union safety reps and shop stewards in the public sector, and to make it harder for unions to collect subscriptions.

"All in all, the bill seeks to hand all power in the work relationship to the employer, by restricting and weakening workers' power to challenge injustice."


Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary has pledged that UNISON will mount a vigorous opposition to the Bill in the Westminster Parliament, working with MPs and peers to defeat every section and every clause of this Bill.

"We will work with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to oppose the Bill.

"We will mount legal challenges on human rights and raise our concerns with the United Nations.

"We will campaign to raise public awareness of the Bill and build public opposition to its draconian measures.

"We will take our opposition to the Tory Party conference in Manchester on 4 October and I call on all branches to be at this demo and our lobby of Parliament on 2 November too."

Dave added, "Our campaign plan has been approved by our National Executive Council. It requires a whole union response at branch, regional and national level.

Click here to go to the UNISON UK website page 

"Everyone can, and must, play a part and I urge you all to join in our campaign to protect our union and our members from this government’s vicious attack on our movement."

A campaign pack is being prepared that will be sent to every branch. In the meantime, please go to the UNISON website and sign up to receive campaign updates and encourage members to do the same.