Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles has condemned Government plans to make central government contracts conditional on private firms promoting trade union membership. The proposals in the Cabinet Office document ‘Access to Skills, Trade Unions and Advice in Government Contracting’ include the words:
“[S]ervice providers are strongly encouraged to communicate the information on Trade Unions in that Annex to their employees. This should be done in ways that fit with their business processes, for example on notice boards, in the employee handbook or during their induction. This is to ensure that all employees can access information, advice and support at work and understand their rights in relation to trade union membership… Good employers respect these rights and some welcome unions on to their premises at agreed times”
Mr Pickles condemned the move as a policy favour to the trade unions, given in expectation of direct financial support and of further gains to the Labour Party through the unions’ political levy.
“We aren’t just returning to an era of beer and sandwiches for the unions. Ministers’ plans to re-unionise local government is a deeply chilling development that will undermine industrial relations, push up costs and mean more strike disruption.”
Conservatives have also revealed provisions to extend this policy to the NHS and to all local government services in 2009.
According to the Electoral Commission, 92.6% of the Labour Party’s funding came from the trade unions in the first quarter of 2008.