Ahead of Trade Union Bill, House of Commons Speaker says he respects unions

Tim Lezard Europe, UK,

John BercowHouse of Commons Speaker John Bercow today praised trade unions even as his party prepared to attack them.

He was the first Speaker ever to address the TUC and managed to congratulate unions on their work promoting equality in society, without mentioning the controversial Trade Union Bill.

The Bill, which seeks to restrict the right to strike, allows agency workers to break strikes and attempts to control union’s social media accounts, is being debated in Parliament this evening.

Speaking at TUC Congress in Brighton before dashing back to London, John Bercow said:  “I believe in the work of trade unions, and the belief has been buttressed and reinforced by my own interaction as Speaker with unions in the House Of Commons.

“The work you do in resolving grievances, in standing up for the disadvantaged and in acting as agents of progressive change is important work which deserves respect, and it certainly has mine.”

He went on to admit when he came into politics he would not have wanted to talk to unions.

“As a right wing Conservative student leader, I would not have wanted to address the TUC and, believe me, you would not have wanted to be addressed by me.

“Today I am proud to be here, proud to be amongst your number and proud to be your guest. I say that because I respect and admire the invaluable and precious work that you do, the work that you do in promoting fairness in the workplace and the wider work you do in pursuit of greater equality across society as a whole.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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