UK: Anti-trade union law a ‘dark day’ for UK workers

Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey

Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey

The completion of the parliamentary stages of the Conservative government’s Trade Union Bill will be remembered as a ‘dark day’ for working people, the UK’s largest union, Unite has said.

The bill now awaits Royal Assent after a series of amendments intended to lessen the worst aspects of the new law were accepted by the government benches.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “We have always questioned the place of these proposals – described by the government’s own advisors as ‘not fit for purpose’ – in a modern democracy.
“The waves of opposition to the bill at every parliamentary stage proved our point. This is a law to solve a problem that does not exist, and which will do a great disservice to harmonious industrial relations in this country.

“The bill’s progress today is simply a dark day for workers and for those who speak up in their defence when power is misused. Moreover, it is the workers of England, who will bear the brunt of the Conservative government’s measures, for the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all stated this law has no place in their countries or workplaces.
“Congratulations must go to those in both the Commons and the Lords, to the unions and to their members for their dogged exposure of the many short-comings of this bill. Our movement’s determination has wrung significant concessions from the government.
“Welcome though these concessions are, they cannot detract from the main purpose of this bill – to make it harder for UK workers to defend themselves.

“We will also be holding the minister to his word on the new powers granted to the certification officer. His clear direction today was that these powers must not be used to impede the day-to-day work of unions, that of protecting their members, because our resources will be tied up dealing with baseless complaints.
“Lastly, we urge the government to reflect upon the message that its campaign has sent to working people – the decent people who tend our sick, educate our children, clean our streets and staff our shops – and conclude that they can never again lay claim to be the party of the working people.”

Frances O’Grady TUC General Secretary said: “While we are pleased to have secured significant changes to the Trade Union Bill, it still remains a very bad and divisive bill.

“The history books will show that the government’s first major act of this Parliament has been to attack the right to strike – a fundamental British liberty.

“This legislation, even in its amended form, poses a serious threat to good industrial relations and is completely unnecessary.”

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