Union members’ right to privacy‏

You might have seen news reports over the past year or so about construction companies blacklisting workers who were union members – refusing to employ workers or whole workforces because they were union members. The government is now attempting to pass a law which makes it legal for the government and appointed third parties to inspect union membership lists to see which workers are members and which are not. I don’t see why it’s any of the government’s business. Given this government’s other attacks on workplace rights (increasing the fees for lodging tribunals, for example, and trying to dismantle health and safety legislation) and their links with big business, I can’t see that any good will come of this for ordinary working people. I see it being a particular problem for people working in the private sector where union membership is not as strong and employers are often quite vocal about breaking unions (see numerous posts about “ethical” company Lush), but it could easily become a problem in the public sector too. And you could argue that employers wanting to get rid of people could use the lists to start with getting the non-members out first because they have nobody to support them. So this Bill is bad for everyone who is an employee.

The Bill in question is going through the House of Lords so the time for contacting your MP is past – now it’s time to contact a peer. http://action.goingtowork.org.uk/lobbyingbillpart3 has all the information you need and a handy email form to contact the peer of your choice online. Unions already have a vested interest in keeping their membership records up to date so this Bill isn’t anything to do with making records more accurate for our sake, it’s about giving the government the right to breach our privacy and pass that info to their corporate fat-cat chums. I’m a bit cross about it. Contact a peer today – do it now!

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