EMPLOYMENT Minister Nick Boles announced on Wednesday evening that the new anti-union legislation will govern industrial action in the fire, health, education, transport, border security and nuclear decommissioning sectors.
He declared war on some of the most important sections of the working class, in particular on the Junior Doctors and the BMA, the Fire and Ambulance Services and NHS trade unions and the transport unions, particularly the RMT and ASLEF Tube workers.
The new legislation is the ‘nuclear option’ that the Tories have been seeking in the battle to force through a ‘Seven-Day’ privatised NHS, and a Night Tube Service, and to cripple the trade unions. For the above sectors, a 50% turnout will be required to make a strike vote, which must see at least 40% of the workforce voting ‘yes’, legal.
This is the first line of attack by the Tories, whose media will be urging workers who oppose action to abstain so that the 50% turnout will not be reached. A second line of attack by the proposed dictatorship is also being promoted by the Tory party, and can be seen at work in the Junior Doctors’ struggle.
There the Tory party insists that because a ‘Seven-Day NHS’ was in the Tory party election manifesto, they have the right to impose it on the trade unions. This plan, if it is allowed to succeed, will finally end the right to strike and turn trade unions into talking shops that cannot act!
The RMT greeted Wednesday night’s statement with defiant words, declaring that ‘RMT will stand alongside our colleagues in health, education and the fire service to fight this outrageous attack on our basic human rights.’
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘These new thresholds will have the perverse effect of making abstentions more powerful in strike ballots than “no” votes …’
However, the TUC leaders have been playing a double game! The TUC has allowed this situation to develop by refusing to even discuss the issue of a general strike at last September’s TUC Congress.
The TUC is letting the Tories get away with murder, allowing them to cut the throat of the trade unions without any real resistance, all the better to collaborate with them. In fact, they have been and are continuing to signal that they are relying on ‘radical Tories’ and Labour peers to amend the anti-union Bill to allow electronic voting and safeguarding trade union funds for Labour. If this is done, they will accept the reactionary legislation!
This is why, on the second reading of the Bill at both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, there were no mass demonstrations outside or protest strikes called.
On Wednesday night, the Tories suffered a small reverse in the House of Lords. TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘We are pleased that peers from all parties, and none, have voted today to set up a cross-party committee to scrutinise the unjustifiable proposals on political funds in the government’s Trade Union Bill.’
Baroness Smith of Basildon moved Wednesday’s motion ‘That it is desirable that a Select Committee be appointed to consider the impact of Clauses 10 and 11 of the Trade Union Bill in relation to the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s report, Political Party Finance: Ending the Big Donor Culture, and the necessity of urgent new legislation to balance those provisions with the other recommendations made in the committee’s report; and that the committee do report by 29 February.’
In her speech, she said: ‘What the Motion does not do is in any way seek to hinder, delay or impede the passage of the Bill.’ The treacherous TUC is backing Tory radicals and rebel peers to try and modify the bill. Any modifications will see them announce a victory, accepting the Bill as it becomes law and leaving the working class in chains!
The basic rights of the working class were not won by past generations to be handed over to the Tories and the bosses so that Labour bureaucrats can have a quieter life.
The millions of trade unionists must now rise up and remove the TUC leaders, replacing them with leaders who are prepared call a general strike to smash the Tories and bring them down, to bring in a workers government and socialism. This is the only way forward!