‘Doomed’ Tories seeking to ‘do as much damage as they can’ with anti-union laws and bonfire of rights, prison officers hear

Ben Chacko (Morning Star) reports from the Prison Officers Association conference in Eastbourne

11 May 2023| News

Multi-pronged attacks on workers’ rights come from a Conservative government that is “doomed to lose the next election but is nevertheless absolutely intent on doing as much damage as it possibly can before it leaves office,” prison officers heard today.

Institute of Employment Rights president Lord John Hendy KC addressed a fringe meeting called by the IER and Thompson’s Solicitors on navigating the threats posed by anti-union laws.

Members of the Prison Officers Association are already familiar with restrictions on their strike rights — being forbidden from striking under Section 127 of the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act.

This made it essential the campaign to repeal Section 127 and restore prison officers’ right to strike became part of the wider campaign to overturn the coming Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, Lord Hendy stressed. “The real question for the trade union movement is to what extent the Labour Party, if it wins office, is going to put right these wrongs.”

And all workers stood to lose workplace rights if the government goes ahead with its sweeping repeal of EU regulations incorporated into British law, he argued.

Ministers now said they only wished to scrap 800 laws rather than the 4,600 identified as emanating from the EU, he said, but “nobody knows what they are.

“Are they to do with the environment, or food standards, or workers’ rights to health and safety, or caps on working time, to paid holidays? It’s all up for grabs.”

Iain Birrell of Thompson’s Solicitors advised POA members of the legal details of when workers could remove themselves from a workplace on the grounds that it is unsafe.

This article first appreared in the Morning Star. We thanks them for permission to use it here.