Trade unions will tonight seek to overturn some of Lady Thatcher's restrictive industrial laws that Labour has refused to repeal since Tony Blair won the 1997 general election.
Thirty-six rebel Labour MPs are backing a campaign coordinated by the TUC to amend the employment bill, which is going through Parliament and comes up for debate tonight.
The legislation will simplify balloting laws, close a legal loophole that allows employers to use agencies to break strikes, give greater protection to individuals following the taking of industrial action and allow unions to expel fascists from unions.
As well as many members of the left-wing Campaign Group, the rebels include Jon Cruddas, the former Labour deputy leadership candidate whom Gordon Brown toyed with giving a ministerial job, ex-minister Kate Hoey, Andrew Dismore, who chairs the joint human rights committee, Michael Connarty, MP for Linlithgow and East Falkirk, Gordon Prentice, MP for Pendle, Dennis Skinner, MP for Bolsover and Eric Illsley, MP for Barnsley Central.
The move has the backing of more than a dozen unions and follows a three-year campaign for a trade union freedom bill, which was talked out by ministers earlier this year.
Unite, Unison, GMB, the Communications Workers union, Public and Commercial Services union, the RMT, Fire Brigades union, Prison Officers' Association, the Bakers' union, Aslef, National Association of Prison Officers and the National Union of Mineworkers are all supporting the TUC campaign.
The most successful amendment - which the government is likely to back - proposes changing the law to expel British National party (BNP) members from unions. Ministers are under pressure from the European Commission to amend the law.
Labour MPs and the anti-fascist campaign group Searchlight want to change amendments to the bill made during its Lords' stages, saying they must be overturned because they prevent unions from expelling people for membership of a political party.
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