Labour Research – August 1987
The government's proposals in the Queen's speech for its latest round of anti-union legislation are identical to those contained in the February green paper Trade Unions and Their Members.
The Labour Research Department's booklet Bashing the Unions, produced in response to the green paper, explains what the latest proposals would mean. The six main areas for change are:
to give workers the legal right to cross picket lines where the majority have voted for industrial action;
to deny trade unionists the right to implement the union's rules where individual members break them;
to end the closed shop even where 85% of employees vote for it;
to give individuals the right to look at unaudited union accounts;
- to force trade unionists to vote only by postal ballot for union elections regardless of union rules and to elect union officials every five years by this method only; and
- to give individuals unwilling to accept majority decisions the right to government financial support in bringing legal action against their union.
Policy Research Associates
Some of the anti-union proposals originate from the publication Postal Ballots and the Unions written by barrister Mark Loveday of the organisation Policy Research Associates. The PRA's function is described by one of its directors – the prominent Freedom Association member Julian Lewis — as monitoring "communist or Soviet-type propaganda". PRA also carried out the media monitoring project used by then Tory chair Norman Tebbit in his attacks on the BBC. The source of funding for that project was a former deputy director of the Confederation of British Industry. The only shareholder of PRA other than Lewis is Thomas Robinson – also a prominent Freedom Association member. Mr Loveday is no newcomer to right-wing organisations; he was a contributor to a publication from the pro-privatisation Adam Smith Institute, and his involvement in anti-union legislation saw him supporting Conservative Trade Unionists' (CTU) chair, Alan Paul, in complaints against the public service union NALGO.
In Postal Ballots and the Unions he calls for postal ballots for election of all officials, whether or not they have a vote; scrutiny of election results by outside bodies; and government support for individuals taking legal action against their unions. Needless to say the chair of the CTU has not been chosen by postal ballot. Indeed in 1979 the leader of the Conservative Party decided that the secretary of the CTU was unsatisfactory, sacked him and chose a new one.