On Monday, September 14th, the government’s anti-Trade Union Bill will get its second reading. The timing of this is not accidental, as it just happens to coincide with the TUC’s Annual Conference. The Tories have also given short notice of this reading in a blatant attempt to curtail any major public opposition.
With this bill, the Conservatives are once again treating working people as the ‘enemy within’, as it seeks to criminalise both workers and their Trade Union Representatives, who may feel that they have no other option but to take industrial action against their employer. No working person ever takes strike action lightly. It is a last resort taken when all other avenues of fair play have been exhausted. The Trade Union Bill will make sure that the basic human right of people to withdraw their labour is taken away. This legislation will basically turn the UK into nothing more than a pariah state that will offer less protection for its workers than any other civilised country in the world. It attacks the freedom of association and expression, along with the ability of any worker to improve pay and safety conditions in the workplace.
This typically ideological Tory bill is quite possibly the most draconian attack on not just the Labour and Trade Union Movement, but also civil and human rights in the UK. The government intends to remove any opposition to its policies and aims to be in a position whereby it can use the full force of the law to stop any form of counter-argument to its agenda of society’s total subservience to a small, but powerful elite.
If working people in this country want to continue to have the right to stand up against unscrupulous employers, to work in safety, to have better pay, holiday entitlement, redundancy pay, maternity leave without being dismissed and the right not to be sacked unfairly, then they need to come together now. Campaigns are springing up all over the country, including a demonstration at 6.00pm on Monday, September 14th at Westminster Green in London.
Make no mistake; David Cameron and his vindictive, uncaring government of ignorance, millionaires and self-interest has once again declared war on the working people of this country. Unless the Labour Movement is prepared to take direct action, then the hard-fought rights that many people have given their lives for, along with the memories of the Tolpuddle Martyrs and the Chartists will be lost. Forever.
Ian Hodson (BFAWU National President)