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Usdaw makes the case for political campaigning by trade unions on heartunions day

Date: 11 February 2016 Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw today gave evidence to the House of Lords Trade Union Political Funds and Political Party Funding Committee, who are investigating Government proposed changes to legislation on trade union political campaigning.

Usdaw made the case that the Government’s proposals are disproportionate, over-burdonsome and a direct attack on the Labour Party link with hundreds of thousands of working people through their trade union.

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We are deeply disturbed by the Government abandoning the convention of cross-party consensus on party funding. To further regulate trade union political funds, without agreement between the parties or proposals to reform other political donations, is a one-sided party political act. These proposals have not been subject to the usual government consultation processes, so we are grateful to the House of Lords for the opportunity today to explain the impact on our members.

“Trade union political spending is already highly regulated and transparent. We conform to Electoral Commission regulations, like everyone else, but in addition we have to ballot our members every ten years to see if they want a political fund, promote members’ right to opt-out of the political levy, publish and submit our accounts for scrutiny by the Certification Officer. No other organisation engaged in British politics has this level of oversight. British trade unions already operate in one of the strictest regulatory regimes in the world, there is simply no need for more red tape.

“We are very proud of our campaigning and often that has to be of a political nature. Our members have for many years decided that affiliation with the Labour Party is the best way to achieve their political goals and we are proud of that link. Currently we are fighting for our members in Parliament on issues like Sunday trading, greater protections from violence, threats and abuse for shopworkers and standing up to the Government on cuts to tax credits and Universal Credit, which severely threaten our members’ livelihoods.

“The Government’s proposed changes to the collection of the trade union political levy are not only an outrageous partisan attack on the Labour Party and democracy, but threatens to remove the political voice of millions of working people through their trade union.”

Notes for editors:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

♥unions week - 8‑14 Feb 2016: The heartunions week of action celebrates the great work done by union reps and members in our workplaces and in society. We're proud of our unions and reject the government's attempts to damage them with the trade union bill. http://heartunions.org/

For Usdaw press releases visit: www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers