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Tory anti-union laws are an attack on basic human rights

15 July 2015

The Tory government was elected on fewer than 25 per cent of all those eligible to vote. Yet, its proposed bill aimed at curtailing trade union activity would impose a minimum 50 per cent turnout in strike ballots, with public sector unions requiring at least 40 per cent of those eligible to vote.

TUCG member unions have dismissed this as blatant ideology and hypocrisy of Tory ministers and MPs in calling for these extensive and draconian reforms.

Attacking workers basic right to organise will lead to increasing inequality in an already unequal society. TUCG member unions have called for unity, solidarity and co-ordination in the face of these unfair and unjust attacks on workplace rights.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said:

"Forget the language of fairness and rights being peddled by the Tories – this is the most cynical of attacks designed to finish what Margaret Thatcher started and enable a Conservative government to destroy the trade union movement. These are not reforms, they are draconian measures intended to strip workers of a voice at work.
"Preventing people from taking action by weighing them down in needless bureaucracy and giving employers ever greater powers will only mean that it will become inevitable that workers will have to set aside the law to properly defend their rights and working conditions. This is a foolish fight for the Tories to pick, but it's one that the trade union movement won't duck from."

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary said:

"We know that these brutal new anti-union laws are specifically targeted at our members in the transport sector who have shown in recent months that they have the guts to stand up and fight for jobs, pay, services and safety. The response of this Government mirrors the actions of hard-right regimes throughout history – shackle the unions, criminalise it's members and use a raft of new laws to try and bankrupt workers' organisations.
"It is not lost on us that this legislation has been tabled just a few days before we celebrate the Tolpuddle Martyrs at their annual festival – a group of Dorset farm labourers criminalised and exiled for daring to organise a union.
"The trade union movement will unite to fight this brutal assault on the most basic of human rights and that campaign will be taken into the communities who stand to lose access to safe and reliable services as this noose of the anti-union laws is twisted round our necks."

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary said:

"It is rank hypocrisy to introduce arbitrary restrictions on union ballots that will not apply to MPs, MEPs, councillors and police commissioners, and they will have no legitimacy when they scrape through parliament on a wafer thin majority.
"We have repeatedly asked ministers to work with us to make it easier for people to vote in workplaces and using technology, and they have refused. This is not an attack on trade unions, it is an attack on society as a whole, as we know that weaker unions means greater inequality."

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary said:

"The Tories are trying to steamroll over the democratic rights and civil liberties of workers in the UK today. Firefighters, ambulance workers, tube workers and others were praised last week for their response to the London bombings on 7/7, but this week the Tories are planning to attack their rights at work.
"This has nothing to do with the voting threshold as the Tories claim. It is all about weakening all trade unions and workers rights so that bosses can attack wages, pensions and conditions at work. And this coming from a government who have been voted into office on the support of just 24 per cent of the public."

Ronnie Draper, BFAWU general secretary said:

"This is another example of the Tories sheer contempt for workers rights. It's ok for an MP to be elected on figures way below 50 per cent of the electorate but not for workers to determine their futures unless they hit the 50 per cent threshold. This is a sad day for workplace justice, but one that will strengthen the resolve of those fighting against oppression."

Bob Monks, URTU general secretary said:

"The Tories blatant disregard for workers' rights is an attack on our basic human rights. Trade unions protect society as a whole and without them, inequality with surely grow. This is the aim of the Tories, smash the unions, run down wages and exploit the vulnerable to benefit the privileged few. TUCG member unions and all within the union movement need to work together, organise and stand up against these brutal attacks and strengthen the message of solidarity to ensure justice for all."

Ian Lawrence, Napo general secretary said:

"It is ironic that a government, elected on 25 per cent of the popular vote is obsessing itself with further attempts to create a climate where trade unions are blamed for the shortcomings of employers and for having the temerity to stand up to exploitative working practices.
"This government ought to be focusing on how it can work with trade unions to create employment opportunities especially for younger people, and democratise society by way of online balloting for political elections as well as those on key industrial issues."

The Trade Union Co-ordinating Group comprises nine trade unions BFAWU, FBU, NAPO, NUJ, NUT, PCS, POA, RMT, and URTU and represents just fewer than one million trade unionists throughout the UK.

Michelle Stanistreet's speech at the TUCG Tolpuddle Martyrs Seminar

Tags: , parliament uk, legislation, conservative party, government uk, trade unions, trade union rights, tucg, trade union freedom, strike