Trade Unions: 10th June 2015

Mr David Anderson (Blaydon) (Lab)
4. What recent discussions he has had with trade unions in Scotland on the Government’s proposed legislation on trade unions. [900153]

The Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise (Anna Soubry)
We are in the process of bringing forward new legislation in relation to trade unions to make sure that we carry out our manifesto commitment. I have not yet met any of the trade unions in Scotland. I look forward to that so that we can make progress with the Bill.

Mr Anderson
From what the Minister has just said, it is quite clear that she has regular discussions with business, but no discussions with trade unions. It is clear that trade union association is a matter of human rights, and that the right to strike makes the difference between people being workers and being slaves. Will she assure the House that she will listen to the voice of the trade unions, and will she confirm that these rules will not breach International Labour Organisation conventions?

Anna Soubry
May I make it very clear to the hon. Gentleman that as a former trade unionist and shop steward I am more than willing to listen to trade unions? Equally, however, it is really important to understand that in the modern world it cannot be right that a minority vote to strike has the most profound effect on travellers and on carers and children. It is in everybody’s interests for us to make sure that our trade unions are democratic and work for everyone.

Kirsten Oswald (East Renfrewshire) (SNP)
Does the Minister agree that strong trade unions are vital if we are to ensure that people receive fair pay for the work they do? What steps is she taking to work with Scotland’s trade unions to promote the living wage in Scotland?

Anna Soubry
As I hope I have made clear, I agree with the hon. Lady. Trade unions play an important part in economic success, or at least they should do. The ​difficulty is that too many trade unions do not represent their members and do not engage and work with their members. We therefore need to make sure that we have modern legislation for our trade unions so that they do not hold people, in effect, to ransom.