‘Open season on workers rights’ says TUC

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‘WORKING people will be worried by a Queen’s Speech that declares open season on so many of their rights and protections,’ said TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady yesterday.

She continued: ‘A government that claimed to be on the side of working people now wants to tip the balance of power against them with draconian restrictions on the right to strike. The real agenda is stopping public sector workers from fighting back against the extreme cuts and pay freezes expected in George Osborne’s budget.’

She added: ‘The Queen’s Speech signals a new assault on the safety net any one of us might need one day if we lose our job or become ill. We need a restoration of job guarantees for young people, not a second class system of social security protection.

‘Children account for three in every four people hit by the benefit cap, so lowering the cap will make child poverty worse. We should instead be dealing with root causes like the lack of affordable housing in London.’

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘This is the clearest possible case of one law for the political class and another for the working class. Only a tiny handful of the hypocrites advocating these ballot thresholds has ever been elected on the same kind of percentages they are demanding in a strike vote.

‘The front line of defence against cuts and austerity is the organised working class and that is why the Tories and big business want to tighten the legal noose around our necks. That’s the same as it ever was and they will have a fight on their hands.’

Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary said: ‘This was a divisive Queen’s Speech that identifies trade unionists, migrants and people on benefits as the enemy of this government. Elected by just 24% of the electorate, the government has put forward an equally narrow agenda.

‘Imposing a threshold of 50% turnouts on union ballots is absurd when most councillors, MEPs, police and crime commissioners and the London Mayor were elected on lower turnouts. It exposes this as an ideological attack on working people fighting to defend their jobs and services.’

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘This is a Queen’s Speech which entrenches inequality. Visits to foodbanks will increase as benefit cuts bite, the sale of housing association stock will not address the housing crisis and more families will be uprooted due to the bedroom tax.’

She added: ‘More testing, more free schools, more forced academies and more pressure – all with less money in education and less money in the other services that support children. This is not the strategy that will give all children in this country excellent outcomes.’

Calling for electronic voting in strike ballots, Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey said: ‘We urge this government to think again. People will not be fooled by claims to be the party of working people, if freedoms and democracy are swept away in a tide of repressive laws and showy PR.’

Dave Wiltshire of the All Trades Unions Alliance commented ‘This is a declaration of war on workers and youth. The trade unions must defend the working class by calling an indefinite general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers government and socialism.’