The Tory Government’s latest anti-worker legislation is yet another demonstration that this is a dead-end Government, all out of ideas.
The cause of the current wave of industrial action lies in the economic crisis made in Downing Street and its failures of the past thirteen years. Working people are facing an economic emergency of sky-high inflation and recession.
Labour is united against this attack on fundamental British freedoms and liberties. We’ll vote against oppose this legislation and the next Labour Government will repeal it.
Not only is it an attack on the fundamental rights of working people, it’s an insult to key workers. Rishi Sunak has gone from clapping them to sacking them. All he and his ministers needed to do was to sit round a table and talk to unions representing our key workers. Instead, he’s ramped up the divisiveness to distract from Tory failure. We need negotiation not legislation to end these strikes.
The proposed legislation won’t work. It’ll cause a huge problem for employers, never mind being anti-worker. The Government’s own impact assessments say it could actually lead to more strikes.
The Tories say there are similar laws in France, Italy and Spain, but the evidence is very clear that those countries have far more strike days than Britain. And their laws are very different. In France, unions only have to give 24 hours’ notice before a strike. Here it is 2 weeks and, in the NHS, “life and limb” cover by NHS workers is a longstanding and successful practice during strikes. In Italy, unions and employers collectively agree minimum services, while in Spain they are used only in exceptional circumstances for strict safety and security reasons.
Let’s call this Bill out for what it is, a fundamental attack on the right to withdraw your labour and a deliberate strategy to bankrupt trade unions representing key workers. Putin’s Russia and Orban’s Hungary have minimum service levels forced by government, sacking workers, or bankrupting unions when they simply seek fair pay. They’re who the Tories will be emulating.
Labour unequivocally supports the right of workers’ to take lawful industrial action to improve their pay, terms, conditions and safety at work. Against the backdrop of the fastest fall in real-wages on record, we understand the strength of feeling amongst workers taking industrial action across the economy.
Strikes are always a last resort; workers don’t want to take action or see disruption to services. But if Government won’t negotiate or give employers a mandate to either, strikes will take place.
Welsh workers are suffering because of the political choices made by the Conservative Government. As TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak has said:
“The right to strike is a fundamental British freedom – but this government seems determined to attack it. This legislation would mean that when workers democratically vote to strike, they can be forced to work and sacked if they don’t comply.”
This is a desperate and divisive attack from a Conservative Party that has nothing left to offer working people across the UK. Labour has legislation ready to go in the first 100 days of the next UK Labour Government: our New Deal for Working People. We’ll end fire and rehire so there’s never another P & O scandal, ban zero-hours contracts, introduce fair pay agreements across sectors like social care, give people rights and protections at work from day one and much more.
After 13 years of Tory Government our country remains riven by inequalities which Labour is focused on fixing, to ensure the working people who create our nation’s wealth get their fair share of it.