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Corbyn blasts government's ‘absolutely outrageous trade union tax’

New regulations, voted through Parliament today, will charge unions 2.5% of their total income to cover the costs of a trade union regulator

THE government’s introduction of a “trade union tax” was branded as “absolutely outrageous” by former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn today after anti-union legislation was approved in the Commons. 

The new regulations, passed with Tory and DUP support by 296 votes to 176 on Wednesday afternoon, impose a significant levy on unions — 2.5 per cent of their total income — to cover the costs of a trade union regulator.

MPs were given very limited scope to consider the changes as were introduced via a statutory instrument, a form of secondary legislation which authorises ministers to implement legislation. 

The proposals originally featured in 2016’s widely criticised Trade Union Act but not introduced until now.

Tory ministers claim the move is not political and is designed to bring the regulator into line with others.

However, during a committee debate which considered the proposals on Tuesday, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse Apsana Begum stressed that the move is out of step with other comparable regulators.

She said: “There are other bodies that don’t pay tax to regulators. 

“Broadcasters don’t pay tax for Ofcom. Data processors don’t pay tax for information commissioners.” 

The regulations could also see unions facing five-figure fines if any rule breach is judged to have occurred as they allow third parties to make anti-union complaints.

Prior to the vote, the TUC warned this could lead to “vexatious complaints” from bosses or members of the public.

Mr Corbyn slammed the move as “another piece of anti-union activity by the Tories.”

He told the Morning Star: “We need a firm pledge from the Labour Party that they will reverse and repeal this as soon as coming into office.”

Former Labour chairman Ian Lavery told the Star: “This is bizarre in anyone’s world. Here we have the trade union police being given powers to investigate unions even where there has been no complaint or if they receive complaints from non-related parties.

“To top it off, the unions have got to use their members’ contributions to fund the investigation. This really does beggar belief.

“It’s rightfully been called a trade union tax which should be actively opposed by unions and politicians alike.”

The party’s MP for Middlesbrough Andy McDonald also blasted the new regulations, tweeting that they are “sheer naked anti-trade unionism.”

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