Trade unionists descend on Westminster to lobby MPs against TU Bill

Parliament lobbyHundreds of trade unionists were yesterday locked out of a London rally against the Trade Union Bill.

An estimated 2,000 people were inside Westminster’s Central Hall when the doors were closed, leaving hundreds of people on the street outside.

Everyone was there to lobby their MPs to vote against the Bill which unions believe is an attack on their ability to organise in the workplace and a threat to UK workers’ right to strike.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady addressing the TU Bill rally, November 2015

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady addressing the TU Bill rally, November 2015

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady told the rally: “The whole trade union movement is opposed to the Bill. Our message to Tory MPs is simple: you are wrong, wrong, wrong.

“This is just the start of our opposition. We have right on our side and together we will win this fight.”

Liberty director Shami Chakrabati said the Bill was an attempt to divide working people, saying: “The government argues the right to strike has to be balanced with the rights of the public to avoid being disrupted by strike action. Well, trade unionists ARE the public.”

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This hard-line Trade Union Bill attacks every worker in this country, union member or not. It’s a Bill that is stuck in the past, outdated and not fit for purpose. We’ll fight for the underdog, the poor, those who can’t stand up for themselves.”

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This Bill is hypocritical, unworkable and possibly illegal, and nothing more than a vindictive attack on working people. We are committed to pursuing all avenues to ensure it is defeated.”

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “This Bill is more vicious than anything Margaret Thatcher’s governments did against trade unions. I’m saying that every trade unionist should receive a letter from their general secretary stating that their union has a programme for a day of action.

“We have to go further; we have to be prepared to make the sacrifices our forefathers made. We have to be prepared to do all things necessary to stop this Bill being made law.”

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Like the attack on the working tax credits, this is another totally unnecessary, un-thought out assault on ordinary workers and their right to be represented collectively by their union.

“It’s vindictive attacks like this that make people need trades unions in the first place. Even Queen Victoria’s advisors saw unions as a force for good in society, of advantage to both employers and employees, which is why they were decriminalised by Royal Commission in 1867.

“Our Queen’s own mother and father thought unions were important enough for them to be union members. But this Tory government ignores precedent, patriotism and public feeling preferring to launch a full frontal class war on its own workers.

“It’s been just seven weeks since this Parliament has been sitting, but in that time we’ve seen Cameron and Osborne attack the poorest workers’ tax credits and say there is nothing they can do whilst our great steel industry and the jobs that go with it collapse.

“This Tory government is sticking the boot into Britons when it should be sticking up for Britain. Unions are about the right to fair pay, fair play and a fair society. The bullying Bullingdon Boys – and their cabinet wannabes – must be stopped from re-criminalising trades unions.”

 


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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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