THERE was an RMT call for a general strike to confront the Trade Union Act and all anti-union laws at at the TUC Congress in Brighton yesterday.
An impassioned debate on ‘Composite Motion 16 2016 Trade Union Act’ was opened by mover Sean Hoyle RMT warning: ‘The Trade Union Act or rather the anti-union act, seeks to turn back the clock a hundred years.
‘When a worker can’t withdraw their labour, they are nothing more than modern day slaves. Under this Act if we have a workplace of 100 and 49 vote, with every single one voting for strike action, they can’t – just one more vote for a 50% threshold.
‘We shouldn’t have to find a way round legislation.
‘Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to repeal anti-union laws. We need a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government. But we can’t wait. The POA motion to “consider the practicalities of a general strike” was passed four years ago – but there’s been no action.
‘There was no invite to junior doctors to address us. If we’d voted for a Day of Action to defend the NHS, that would have been something that got huge public support. The motion calls for a conference to coordinate our legal and industrial response to the Act.
‘For me that’s a general strike. We need that conference. We need to tell the bosses they can shove their crumbs, we’re coming for the cake.’
Seconding the motion, Tony Burke, Unite, said: ‘With new leadership in the Labour Party we have the opportunity to begin a fight against all anti-union laws. We need the right to organise a union presence in the workplace and a right to collective bargaining.
‘We’ve got to have the right to strike.’
Jerry Glazier, NUT, said in support: ‘The Trade Union Act is the most draconian legislation in anti-union laws. The Act clearly contravenes ILO clause 37 and freedom of association. Lifting the ban on agency workers to break strikes will worsen industrial relations. We have to oppose all anti-union legislation and embolden the General Council to lead a powerful campaign for its repeal.’
FBU delegate Ian Murray said: ‘The Trade Union Act is the most serious attack on workers’ rights for a generation. Statutory restrictions on ballots and thresholds and restrictions on picketing. General Council must convene a special meeting for an emergency plan of action to oppose these legal measures.
‘For the past two years we’ve been talking the talk, we need to walk the walk. We shouldn’t be discussing how we get round this legislation, we should be discussing how we are going to defy it.’
POA general secretary Steve Gillan said: ‘There have been some concessions but as the RMT said this is like crumbs off the table. We don’t want the trade union movement to be in our position having to think outside the box because we don’t have the right to strike.
‘We need to rise up as one trade union movement and get rid of all anti-union legislation not just the Trade Union Act. The trade union movement has not supported us. We’ve had to rise up in our union to defend our members. We need to take the decision so if they attack one union, they attack us all and we have to respect that.’ The motion was overwhelmingly passed.