Examination of Witnesses

Part of Trade Union Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:33 pm on 15th October 2015.

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Mark Serwotka: Very briefly, the changes to political funds will have an enormous effect. People should not confuse it with affiliation to the Labour party in our case, because we are non-party politically affiliated. It is timely that we have been asked that question, because I am here on the very day that the Government announced that they were essentially backing down on the privatisation of criminal fines enforcement in the Ministry of Justice. My union has waged a five-year political campaign pointing out that that privatisation is wrong, and the Government have accepted that argument today.

A year and a half ago, we made a political argument not to privatise the Land Registry, which was also successful. Those campaigns are funded by political funds, which would be devastated by the opt-in, rather than opt-out method. It would massively curtail things.  Directly, there is evidence that had we not run those campaigns, the Government would probably have made the wrong decision on two occasions.

On the right to strike—I will keep this short so other people can speak—all I would say is that in my union, it is predominantly the women membership who are suffering from 11 years of low pay and freezes to tax credits. Some 40% of PCS members claim tax credits. It is quite clear that there is a disproportionate effect on them if their ability to strike is undermined.

All I would ask the Committee is to consider this: do the Government really care about thresholds? Over the past 10 years, during the last Labour Government, the coalition Government and now, I am on record as saying that we would love to sit down and talk about changes in ballot methods to allow secure, online workplace balloting. In my union, we have done pilots. Where the law allows ballots in the workplace, the turnout is treble what it is when you have a statutory ballot by post. There is irrefutable proof that in comparable elections, three times the number of people vote in work. We have the technology to do it securely. That is what the Government should be talking about, because that would have a massive upwards effect on turnout.