Wales to defy Tory Trade Union Bill

by New Worker correspondent

MARK DRAKEFORD, the Welsh Assembly Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government, attacked the Tory Trade Union Bill while he was speaking at the Welsh TUC Conference in Llandudno last week. He promised that they would repeal every “pernicious, illiberal and regressive section”.

He claimed that although some changes had already been achieved by the campaign led by the trade unions, some parts of the Bill, “fundamentally harmful to Wales”, were still there.

These included the section that insists on a vote of at least 40 per cent of those eligible to vote for strike action in health, education and the fire service. “It is simply not acceptable for the UK Government to impose them on Wales...” he said.

Martin Mansfield, the general secretary of Wales TUC, has said that expert legal opinion shows that parts of the Trade Union Bill infringe on areas that are devolved to Wales.

Legal opinion from Hefin Rees QC stated that: “If the Bill is enacted there is nothing to prevent the Welsh Government from enacting legislation that disapplies, in full or in part, the effect of the Bill in Wales, so long as that legislation relates to a devolved matter.”

In January the Welsh Assembly voted to withhold consent from clauses in the Bill that restrict strike ballots, limit facility time and end “check off” (where employers deduct trade union subs from salaries for the union) in the public sector. Only the Tories voted against.

If the Westminster government goes ahead with the Bill the Welsh government is now expected to “disapply” the Bill in Wales. The issue would then go to the Supreme Court.