21 March 2013Â by Paddy McGuffin Home Affairs Reporter, Morning Star
A major campaign to defend trade union rights will be launched at the weekend with a rally in central London.Â Twenty-five national trade unions will unite on Friday to launch the Campaign For Trade Union Freedom (CTUF) organisation.
Thatcher-era anti-trade union legislation has left trade unions with their hands tied while the coalition launches unprecedented assaults on workers’ pay, conditions and rights with fierce cuts to health and safety and public services.
Labour failed to repeal the draconian legislation and in some cases actively tightened the laws.
Recent years have seen bosses exploit the law to prevent unions from taking effective industrial action in support of their members.
At the same time as workers’ protections are being eroded the coalition has also passed legislation which means that claimants at employment tribunals are forced to pay their own costs and restricted access to legal aid.
The new campaign aims to bring together workers from across all services and industries in both a head-on challenge to those politicians advocating further legal restrictions on union rights and in a mobilisation to roll back the anti-union laws.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said that for more than 30 years trade union rights have been cut away by successive governments “determined to silence the voice of ordinary workers.”
He warned that this had caused a growing gap between rich and poor and a dramatic decline in the wealth that goes into the pockets of working people.
He said: “The right to organise, strike and take solidarity action are fundamental tools needed for working people to attain a fair portion of the wealth they create.
“Only by winning back our freedoms can we win a fair settlement for working people. We support this important and timely campaign.”
CTUF director John Usher said that the campaign would fight for the introduction proper laws to give trade unions the right to protect their members and also seek to repeal the Thatcher-era anti-union laws.
John Hendy QC, a leading advocate for workers’ rights, said: “As the government slashes and burns everything that makes Britain a civilised country the trade unions have a vital role to play in Britain’s resistance. But legislation has tied them in red tape.
“The founding of the CTUF marks the next phase in the struggle to restore trade union rights and their freedom to lead the fight for working-class people.”
CTUF president and RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “After 30 years of Labour, Tory and Liberal governments taking the axe to trade union rights, and using mass unemployment as a weapon to shackle working people, the CTUF is about turning the tide and putting the right to take solidarity action back on the agenda.”
The rally takes place at Friends House in Euston, London, at 1.30pm.