Friday, 29 January 2016

UK Trade Union Bill and the Spanish Gag Rule

INVITATION ONLY EVENT: UK Trade Union Bill and the Spanish Gag Rule
The Institute of Employment Rights would like to invite you to a round-table discussion to take place onFriday 12 February at the TUC, London. You are invited to join us for a continental breakfast at 8.30amand the meeting will start at 9.00am. The meeting will finish no later than 11am.
This meeting has been jointly organized by IER, SERTUC and UNITE and will involve:
·       Welcome: Gail Cartmail, UNITE AGS
·       Spanish Law: Fátima Aguado Queipo, International Secretary FSC-CCOO and Jesús Gallego, International Coordinator, UGT.
·       UK similarities: John Hendy QC, IER
·       Questions and Discussion

Background - Spain: the “Gag Rule”
Prior to the 2015 UK general election various Conservative sources referred to the “Spanish model” of controlling trade union protests. Now we have the Trade Union Bill being pushed through Parliament and many of the attacks contained in that Bill reflect similar laws in Spain.
So how are Spanish laws being used to restrict trade union rights and what can we learn from our Spanish colleagues? The headline news is that eight Air Bus workers are in court in Spain facing an eight year sentence for offences related to the Spanish “gagging law”.

At this invitation only breakfast meeting we will have two Spanish trade unionists explaining the law, assessing it impact and answering any queries we might have.

What the law does:
In summary, the “gagging law” is aimed at protests in support of industrial disputes, within a framework intended to cause maximum financial damage and intimidation including:
·       Strikers are allowed to film pickets but not the police therefore in practical terms no filming
·       there are strict rules regarding wearing of badges and T-shirts in the vicinity of a strike  
·       Workers classified as providing “services of general interest” are within scope and the definition being applied is very wide.
·       A blanket ban on any protest in areas of interest to tourism can be applied.

Actions against breaches of law
·       People are deprived access to the court.
·       Sanctions for breaches of this new law are ‘administrative’ sanctions are being automatically imposed by the police for breaches of the law
·       Legal challenges have poor prospects of success and are guaranteed to be more costly than the administrative fine imposed.
·       Fines are enforced via a civil process, with personal assets under threat of seizure.
·       No pre-authorization for house searches is required.

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