Tories accused of declaring war on public-sector workers after anti-strikes bill is forced through Parliament

Unions protest against Government anti-strike legislation

24 May 2023| News

Tory ministers have declared war on working people, unions charged today after the government whipped its MPs to reject House of Lords amendments to its widely condemned anti-strikes Bill.

The legislation aims to empower bosses and even ministers to sack workers who refuse to cross their own picket lines and provide an as yet undefined minimum service level during walkouts in six sectors, including transport and education.

The Bill was savaged by peers, who passed several amendments, including removing the threat of dismissal from anyone refusing a “work order” and limiting the provisions to England only after devolved Labour and SNP ministers in Wales and Scotland respectively condemned it.

But on Monday night, as an emergency TUC rally was held in Parliament Square, Tory MPs rejected the changes, paving the way for the legislation to become law in the coming weeks.

Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said the Tories had “declared war on firefighters, nurses, teachers, rail workers, paramedics and other workers, by forcing through Parliament this latest attack on our rights.

“It’s outrageous that the government has ridden roughshod over the opposition by these key workers, who took to the streets outside Parliament to protect their right to strike in defence of jobs and wages.”

He warned that the vote is “not the end of the fight against this authoritarian and undemocratic assault on employment rights: far from it.

“A mass campaign of opposition and defiance can make this law unworkable and ultimately defeat it.”

In a fiery speech met with applause and cheers at Monday night’s rally, rail union RMT head Mick Lynch said: “We will not allow our members to be dismissed.

“We will not obey work notices. We will defy this law, and if it comes in, the TUC and every worker in this country has got to unleash a mass campaign of workplace disobedience and defiance.”

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn confirmed on Twitter that he had voted against the Bill, saying: “Defending the right to strike is the bare minimum.

“We need a wealth tax to give workers a proper pay rise and save our public services. We are a movement — and we’re not going anywhere.”

This article was first published in the Morning Star. We thank them for permission to republish it here.